List of Prepositions

Prepositions of Time
Prepositions of Direction Prepositional Phrases

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Prepositions cause more confusion than almost any other part of the English language, and yet we use prepositions more often than any other type of word. Prepositions are necessary to form and connect phrases that show, define, or create a relationship between other words in the sentence. These relationships can be of direction, place, time, cause, manner and amount. Prepositions are always followed by a noun or a pronoun (objects of the preposition), with the exception of the preposition to, which is also used to form the infinitive of a verb (to walk, to run, to go, etc).  Prepositional phrases, like idioms, are best learned by listening and reading as much as possible. There are over 100 prepositions in English, many of which have more than one meaning. This page only discusses some of them. If you have a question about a particular preposition, please e-mail your questions to us, or ask in the class.

List of English Prepositions (click on link)

Sample Prepositions:

It shows this cause or purpose:

Preposition or Phrase

Sample Sentence

A general point or target at Jack looked at new cars Sunday. He looks at them every chance he gets.
A specific point or location  at, to The driver shook his fist in anger at the woman who cut him off in traffic.  

They drove to the beach.

A goal or purpose for Edward is studying for an engineering degree.
An intended recipient for Alan bought  flowers for Kathryn.
An actual recipient to Mary gives the book to her brother.













by means of





 on account of



Peter got a better job because of his hard work. 

The boss gave him a raise for being the top salesman.

Miranda lost weight from being on a diet.

Jean was fired on account of being late each day.

The tortoise won the race through perseverance.

indicating time








He left at three o'clock.

We will clean the car on Wednesday

Tony was born in 1964.

My parents will be on vacation for two weeks.

indicating position or location at









Clay was at the bank.

I think there are barracuda in those waters.

The Lone Ranger sat on his horse.

Why, in movies, do cars always break down at night near cemeteries?

Ned lives across the street from his  mother-in-law.

When it thunders, the puppy hides under my bed.

When someone has to make a difficult choice between two equally strong possibilities, people may  say, "You are between the devil and the deep blue sea."

Prepositions of Direction  (to, into, onto)

Prepositions of Time and Location

Prepositional Phrases

Prepositional phrases contain at the least one preposition and its object.  Objects of a preposition are noun phrases or gerund subordinate clauses.  In most cases, the object of the preposition comes right after the preposition.   

When the object of the preposition is who, which, what, whom, that word may be at the beginning of the sentence or clause and the preposition might be later in the sentence. In some cases, the sentence can be re-formed with the preposition in front of the wh word, but in some, it cannot. Here are a few examples of sentences that can be re-phrased, and others that cannot be re-phrased:

Sometimes the object of the preposition can be understood from the context of the sentence:

Sometimes a sentence written in passive voice has a preposition but no object, if the subject would be the same as the object when written in the active voice.

Prepositional phrases can act as noun modifiers, adverbials, and complements to verbs or adjectives.

 Noun Modifier


Adverbials are words or phrases that provide information about when, where, how, or why things happen. They are generally found in the predicate of a clause. They are often at the beginning of an entire clause and are written in front of the subject of that clause. In that case, separate the adverbial by a comma. Time and place adverbials are often prepositional phrases.  

Verb Complement

There are a few verbs that can only be used with certain specific prepositions and need a prepositional phrase in order to make the sentence understandable. Some of these verbs are depend, rely, and deprive.

Rely and depend need on or upon.  No other prepositions make sense. 

Deprive can only be used with of.

   Adjective Complement

There are certain adjectives that can only be used with specific prepositions. A dictionary may help you learn these, or you will just have to depend on observation and experience.