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Language Arts

Prepositions Overview



This preposition overview has information on simple prepositions, complex prepositions, prepositional complements, and the roles of prepositional phrases. The article provides a definition and examples of each type of prepositions.

Prepositions are used to introduce prepositional phrases, devices for adding modifying information in ways beyond what adjectives and adverbs can do. The preposition is followed in the prepositional phrase by the object or complement.

Simple Prepositions

Prepositions have a single form that is used any place they are used in a sentence. This is a list of fifty-five of the most common simple prepositions:

aboard

but (except)

over

about

by

past

above

concerning

per

across

considering

regarding

after

despite

since

against

down

than

along

during

through

among

except

throughout

around

for

till

as

from

to

at

in

toward

before

into

towards

behind

like

under

below

near

until

beneath

of

upon

beside

off

with

besides

on

within

between

onto

without

beyond

 

 

Here are some example sentences:

Harold ran far beyond the finish line.

Barbie went without breakfast.

They said it was the longest line in the world.

If you want to narrow it down even more, the most common are these twenty-three:

about

for

than

after

from

through

as

in

to

at

into

under

before

like

with

between

of

within

by

on

without

during

over

 

It is important for you to know that many of these words are not solely prepositions, but fulfill the roles of multiple parts of speech. Many prepositions are also conjunctions or adverbs. Of the first ten prepositions on the list of fifty-five, all but against and among are also adverbs, while after, as, before, for, since, than, and until are conjunctions.

Complex Prepositions

Complex prepositions are formed of more than one word. Many of these prepositions begin with in or on, and end with from, of, to, or with. Here are a number of them:

according to

except for

on behalf of     

along with        

in accordance with

outside of

apart from

in addition to    

owing to

as a result of

in comparison with

prior to

as for

in contrast to

rather than

as to

in front of

regardless of

as well as         

in light of

so far as

because of

in regard to

subject to

by means of

in spite of         

thanks to

by way of

in view of

together with

care of

instead of

with reference to          

close to           

next to

with regard to

contrary to

on account of

with respect to

due to

 

 

Here are some example sentences:

In accordance with the state code, the paper mill will have a week to respond to the charge.

Please choose me instead of Jim!

Next, we will discuss plans with respect to the merger.

We can all get home before seven p.m. thanks to Sally and Ned and the crew.

Prepositional Complements

The complements of prepositions are usually noun phrases (see the article “Nouns Overview”), or nominal clauses. Prepositional complements take the objective form when available in formal style, and so this mainly affects the choice of pronouns:

 

Objective Pronouns

First person singular

me

First person plural

us

Second person singular

you

Second person plural

you

Third person singular:

him, her, it

Third person plural

them

Here are some example sentences:

Don’t go without me!

Take it from him!

On behalf of all of us, I offer Miss Pritchard the heartiest congratulations.

Roles of Prepositional Phrases

Prepositional phrases serve as modifiers, and they can act both like adjectives and adverbs. Prepositional phrases can modify a wide variety of sentence elements.

1) Prepositional phrases can modify nouns (notice that it can go after the noun, whereas most adjectives in English are place before the noun).

SueEllen Smith of 2914 Chestnut Ave. was the first witness.

I am vacuuming the Oriental rug in the hall.

2) Prepositional phrases can modify adjectives.

Rich was unaware of the circumstances.

Fido was confused by the strange scent.

3) Prepositional phrases can modify verbs.

The child stood near the merry-go-round.

Lubee grabbed the artichoke without a second thought.

And prepositional phrases can modify other sentence elements, and even entire sentences.

Related Articles
Nouns Overview Synonyms