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Definition of Preposition (with Examples)

Definition of Preposition (with Examples)

Prepositions are usually short words (e.g., on, in, at, about, for). Prepositions are placed before a noun to show that noun's relationship to something else in the sentence. For example:
  • The mouse is on the table.
  • (The preposition on shows the relationship between table and mouse.)
  • It is a knife for butter.
  • (The preposition for shows the relationship between butter and knife.)
The noun governed by a preposition (which nearly always follows the preposition) is known as the object of the preposition. For example:

  • It is a tray for appliances.
  • (In this example, appliances is the object of the preposition for. The preposition shows the relationship between applications and a tray.)
  • The harrier hovered over the field.
  • (In this example, the field is the object of the preposition over. The preposition shows the relationship between the field and the Harrier.)

A List of Common Prepositions

Here is a list of common prepositions:

about, above, across, after, along, among, around, as, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, by, except, for, from, in, in front of, inside, into, of, off, on, onto, out of, outside, over, past, since, through, to, toward, under, up, upon, with, within, without.
Quick Test
 
 

Take a longer test on prepositions.
Note

Use Whom After a Preposition

The object of a preposition is always in the objective case. Therefore, who never follows a preposition. You must use whom after a preposition.
  • You're pregnant by who?
Read more about who and whom.
Beware

Avoid Ending a Sentence with a Preposition

The word preposition means positioned before. A preposition is positioned before a noun to show that noun's relationship with another noun in the sentence. As prepositions are designed to sit before nouns, lots of people do not like it when nothing follows a preposition. For this reason, many people do not like it when a preposition ends a sentence.

Nowadays, it is a little outdated to state that a sentence cannot end in a preposition. However, as lots of your readers might not like it, it is best to avoid ending a sentence in a preposition.
  • Which brush did you paint with?
  • (This is not wrong, but some of your readers might not like it.)
  • With which brush did you paint?
  • (If this sounds too unnatural for you, use the version above or reword your sentence; e.g., Which brush did you use for painting?)
Read more about ending a sentence in a preposition.