Prepositions are small words, but they are perhaps the most difficult words to use correctly in a foreign language. There are many prepositions in English, but common English prepositions include at, for, from, in, of, on, to.
What Are Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases?
A preposition is a word that shows the relationship between a noun (or pronoun) and the rest of the sentence. Prepositions have many purposes, but they often give us information about place, time, and direction.
- place: in the classroom, on the table, near the bank, at the bank, under the table
- time: in the morning, in March, in 1985, in ten minutes, for ten minutes, at 9:45, on Monday
- direction: to the bank, from the bank
The combination of a preposition and its object (and any modifiers such as articles or adjectives) is called a prepositional phrase.
at home under the sofa on the green table
PREP + OBJ PREP + ARTICLE + OBJ PREP + ARTICLE + ADJECTIVE + OBJ
A prepositional phrase can come at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence.
- beginning: In central Canada, the weather can be incredibly cold.
- middle: Vicky studied French in central Canada in 2005 and 2006.
- end: Dr. Ian Palmer teaches at a large university in central Canada.
Note that we usually use a comma after a prepositional phrase that comes at the beginning of a sentence.
- beginning (with comma): In the last century, air pollution damaged our forests.
- end (with no comma): Air pollution damaged our forests in the last century