PrepositionsInformation about what prepositions are and how to use them in English
Prepositions are words that indicate position, location, direction, or relation. They are always followed by a noun or pronoun, called the object of the preposition. Together, a preposition and its object, along with any modifiers, form a prepositional phrase.
One thing that may help you understand and identify prepositions is to remember that many of them express the relationship a bird might have with a cloud; birds can fly through clouds, over clouds, between clouds, around clouds, etc. Not every preposition can be identified this way, but many of them can.
The list below includes most of the single-word prepositions commonly used in English.
bar (meaning “except”)
but (meaning “except”)
Some prepositions comprise more than one word. These are called compound prepositions. They function together as a unit, just as if they were single-word prepositions.
as far as
as well as
by way of
in addition to
in back of (slang)
in front of
in lieu of
in place of
in regard to
in spite of
in view of
on account of (slang)
with regard to
Most English words can function as more than one part of speech. Many prepositions function also as adverbs, and some as conjunctions.
Choosing prepositions correctly, according to conventional usage, is an important part of speaking idiomatically correct English. Many nouns, verbs, and adjectives require specific prepositions, depending on the context in which they are used. For example, we say that a person is “interested in” something, not “interested on” something. For examples of how to use at, in, and on correctly, see Prepositions Exercise 1: At, In, and On.
Be sure not to confuse the preposition to with the “infinitive to.” Infinitives are formed with the word to followed by a verb in its basic form: to run, to listen, to understand, etc. In infinitives, to is not considered a preposition.