One of the biggest struggles that new learners of the English language will encounter during their studies is mastering the grammatical concept of the ‘Preposition.’ The most common issue that a lot of my ESL students have come across is how to better understand and memorize the grammar rules of the ‘Preposition.’
It’s nearly impossible to memorize all of the ‘Prepositions’ and their specific uses in English. I find that it’s best to examine certain examples where the individual preposition is being used in the sentence and for what context does it most apply fittingly. It’s important to remember that a preposition is considered to be a part-of-speech that comes before a noun type of phrase and connects it to another part of the sentence. The name of ‘Preposition’ can be broken down into pre-position which gives us a good hint that this part-of-speech needs to be placed before the noun. There are different types of noun phrases such as the noun phrase (the short boy), the noun (meat), the pronoun (us), and the ‘gerund or before the verb in –ing form’ (dancing).
The most common prepositions are on, in, to, for, with, by, and. There are numerous other prepositions and for a full list of them, I highly recommend going to this link: https://www.englishclub.com/grammar/prepositions-list.htm
There are three types of relationships that the preposition has with the rest of the sentence. They are relationships in time, in space, and of a certain method.
For some examples of prepositions in these three different relationships, let’s look at the following sentences:
- The soccer ball is on the floor. (relationship in space)
Note: The physical location of the soccer ball is located on the floor. ‘On’ is a good example of a preposition that is used to demonstrate the relationship in space between itself and the noun.
- You will meet him in October to discuss the business deal. (relationship in time)
Note: When it comes to date / time / place, a preposition like in is perfect for highlighting the relationship of time when it comes to a noun like ‘October.’ For months, days, weeks, and other words for time, it’s important to use the correct preposition to express this relationship.
- I sent the wedding invite to you by postal mail. (relationship of method)
Note: When describing a method with a preposition, using by is the most popular and the most useful. Whether its’ mailing a package, or writing a reply to your boss, this kind of preposition will come in handy especially when it comes to connecting the gerund (verb + ing) to the part of speech.
There are several kinds of relationships that are expressed with the help of prepositions but the most common relate to space, time, and method.
Prepositions can either be one word (after, in, by, etc.) or a couple of words, which makes them more complex in their overall nature. (according to, despite that, because of, etc.)
Prepositions will usually come in the middle of a sentence to connect two parts of a whole sentence. However, there are exceptions and sometimes they will appear at the beginning or end of a sentence.
Which person did you talk to?
To which person did you talk?
Another important distinction between prepositions is related to whether they involve place or time.
Prepositions of place describe the relation of an object or thing to another object or thing in terms of space.
This chart below provided by http://www.englishclub.com explains this phenomenon along with a list of corresponding prepositions of place:
Here are some example sentences for preposition of place:
- My dinner plate is on the table.
- The boy hid under his bed.
- He stood in front of the door.
- The bird flew above the crowd.
- He looked over his assembled troops on the battlefield.
Prepositions of time usually involve prepositions like at, in, on, by, etc. We use at to describe a specific time or date. We use in to highlight months, years, decades, and long periods of time. The last preposition of on is the most specific and deals with days of the week, and dates in time. By is the least common preposition of time but can be used to express important due dates when it comes to days and weeks.
Here are some example sentences for preposition of time:
- I have a salsa class at 8 pm tonight.
- In September, I started my new job.
- We ended our job strike on Tuesday because our demands were met.
- You need to finish this project by next week.
- We will be back from our vacation by Friday night at 11 PM.
This chart below from http://www.englishlearnsite.com is very useful in giving us more examples on how to use these prepositions of time in the correct manner without getting frustrated.
Prepositions are an important grammatical concept to master in order to become fluent in the English language. We hope this first grammatical topic was helpful to you as a reader of our website. Remember that a preposition is always followed by a noun, and never by a verb. Prepositions usually appear in the middle of a sentence but sometimes at the beginning or end too. Placing your prepositions before the ‘noun’ and after the subject/verb will help you greatly with regards to your English grammar.
We hope you enjoyed this first educational post on 'English from A to Z' and we look forward to sharing another topic with all of our visitors again soon.