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Preposition examples

If you want to describe how someone or something got from one place to another, when it happened, where it is now or perhaps something a bit more metaphysical, you need prepositions. Just pop a preposition into your sentence, attach a prepositional phrase to the end, and away yo go!

In order for your preposition to qualify, it should have a complement, a noun, pronoun or noun equivalent (maybe a noun phrase or a gerund) that it is governing. If there’s no complement, as in the case of a phrasal verb like burn up, then there is no preposition.

To check whether your word counts or not, try moving the potential preposition, and the words you think might be attached to it, about in the sentence or phrase.

Up Thomas Street she turned to get some stamps

makes sense, whereas

Up his trousers he turned in order to look more like the other kids

does not.

Try that too often, and down it you will never live.

Prepositions in English almost always appear in front of the complement, hence the pre- of preposition, but there are a couple of exceptions (ago, for one). Many other languages forbid stranding the preposition at the end of the sentence or clause, but English is quite happy for that to happen, despite what you might have heard from your teachers at school.

Examples of prepositions most commonly found in English

againstbeyondin front ofoutsideup
aroundbyin spite ofpastup to
because ofdownlikethroughwithout
beforeduringnearthroughoutwith regard to
behindexceptoftowith respect to
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