Simple prepositionsare short words that we usually use before a noun/substantive to indicate the relation of the noun to a verb, an adjective, or another noun. English prepositions form a very large list, over 150 in total and they can be very tricky to master with a lot of exceptions to every rule. The most common prepositions in English are simple prepositions like; at, in, on, by, to, for, until, since, before, after, about, from,with etc.. The list of prepositions is very long and here in this lesson we will elaborate on simple prepositions of time and place.
Simple prepositions of time: at, in, on, by, until, to, before, since, ago, past and for.
Weekends, any clock time (at 16:00), nights
Let’s meet at the weekend.
We saw you at 17:30 last Friday.
At night time we love to party.
Any time of day, years, months and time periods (in the holidays, vacations)
I was born in 1990.
The festivals are held in July.
What are you going to do in the holidays/spring break?
days of the week
We’re going to see each other on Monday.
I caught up with her on Tuesday.
When someone or something is close to someone or something
The trees are by the river.
I live by my friend.
Marks the beginning or start of something until it ends
We have English lessons from 17:00 until 18:00 every day.
Strictly for telling the time
I saw him from morning to night.
Let’s meet from 20:00 to 22:00
Used to reference a time that was before another time
Before last Saturday I hadn’t known what my task was.
To reference a point in time
He’s been living in the United States since 2009.
Used to reference a certain time in the past
Ten years ago we left Ireland to go to the United Kingdom.
Used only as a reference to clock time.
At 10 past 17:00 I’ll meet you by the tower.
It’s 15 past 15:00
Duration of time, a period of time.
Our daughter has been here all her life.
I’ve been living in London for eight years.
Simple prepositions of place (direction and position): at, in, on, by, from, to, through, across, above, over, under, into, onto, towards and next.
Position at a point
Uses for common names, such as buildings, companies etc..
Used with collective or group activities
meet me at the centre of town.
I work at burger king, at English reservoir, at the empire state building.
I’m at a party/class/martial arts…
very large areas
I live in Spain/New York/England/Manchester.
We’re in a room/classroom/cube
Position on a line
‘On’ means ‘attached to’.
Their work is on the way to the lake.
My pen is on the table
I have a ring on my finger/I have earings on
Meaning ‘beside’ someone or something.
Used to talk about an action; what we do to get a result.
I was standing by him to keep an eye on him.
I broke the window by kicking it.
Used for origin, in the sense of where something or someone originates from.
Maria is from Paris.
Used for movement and directions
I’m leaving soon to go to our friend’s house.
We went to Bali on vacation.
Used for referring to something with limits but can be traversed ‘through’.
We left in our car and drove through some hotspots/a tunnel/a cave etc..
Used for indicating another side to something.
We flew across America from New York to San Francisco.
I live across the road to Jim.
Indicates anything that is higher than another thing.
The plane flew above our heads.
The buildings are above us.
Used to mean that something or someone is covering another thing.
Meaning ‘more than’.
Used when an obstacle has been overcome.
My blindfold is over my eyes, I promise!
To enter our disco you need to be over 18 years old.
I ran over many hurdles in order to get to this point.
Indicates something being lower than another thing or person.
Our basement is under the house.
There’s a lot of mice under our flat.
‘In’ to indicate a place that is being entered. ‘To’ indicates movement.
We got into the bar around 18:00/He’s flying into Beijing,
‘On’ equals the surface or the top of a thing or person and ‘to’ equals movement.
We fell onto the grass while running.
Indicates ‘movement’ but not precise or direct movement which in that case we’d use ‘to’.
She’s thinking about headings towards the south pole.
Let’s go towards his house.
Very similar to ‘by’ in that it means someone or something is beside another person or thing.