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Simple Prepositions

Simple prepositions are 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.

Preposition

Use

Examples

 At
  • 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.
 In
  • 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.
 On
  • days of the week
  • We’re going to see each other on Monday.
  • I caught up with her on Tuesday.
 By
  • When someone or something is close to someone or something
  • The trees are by the river.
  • I live by my friend. 
 Until
  • Marks the beginning or start of something until it ends
  • We have English lessons from 17:00 until 18:00 every day.
 To
  • Strictly for telling the time
  • I saw him from morning to night.
  • Let’s meet from 20:00 to 22:00
Before
  • Used to reference time that was before another time
  • Before last Saturday I hadn’t known what my task was.
 Since
  • To reference a point in time
  • He’s been living in the United States since 2009.
 Ago
  • Used to reference a certain time in the past
  • Ten years ago we left Ireland to go to the United Kingdom.
Past
  • 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
 For
  • 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.

Preposition

Use

Examples

 At
  • 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…
 In
  •  very large areas
  • 3-d space
  • I live in Spain/New York/England/Manchester.
  • We’re in a room/classroom/cube 
 On
  • Position on a line
  • Surface
  • ‘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 
 By
  • 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.  
 From
  • Used for origin, in the sense of where something or someone originates from. 
  • Maria is from Paris. 
 To
  • Used for movement and directions 
  • I’m leaving soon to go to our friend’s house.
  • We went to Bali on vacation.  
Through
  •  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.. 
 Across
  • Used for indicating another side to something.  
  • We flew across America from New York to San Francisco. 
  • I live across the road to Jim. 
 Above
  • Indicates anything that is higher than another thing.  
  • The plane flew above our heads.
  • The buildings are above us.
Over
  • 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.  
 Under
  •  Indicates something being lower than another thing or person.  
  • Our basement is under the house.
  • There’s a lot of mice under our flat.  
 Into
  • ‘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,  
 Onto
  • ‘On’ equals the surface or the top of a thing or person and ‘to’ equals movement.  
  • We fell onto the grass while running.  
 Towards
  •  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.  
 Next
  • Very similar to ‘by’ in that it means someone or something is beside another person or thing.  
    • Harry is sitting next to kate.
    • I love working next to her.  

See also: 

 

 

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