A preposition is a word placed before a noun or noun equivalent to show its relation to another word in the sentence.
In the sentence “The girl placed her hand on the desk,” the word on shows the relation between the hand and the desk. If the word on is omitted, there is no sense.
The hand may be on the table, under the table, or above the table. Until some preposition is inserted the relation between the hand and the table is not known. The word on is, therefore, a preposition.
The noun or noun-equivalent before which a preposition is used is called its object or complement. Some adverbs of time or place can be used as objects to prepositions denoting relations of time or place; as
- We must be ready by then (=that time).
- He has worked hard from then to now.
- The old man walks about from here to there.
- Until now she has done nothing.
- You must go at once.
- He will be remembered forever.
Types of Preposition
There are 6 types of Prepositions
- Simple Prepositions
- Double Prepositions
- Compound Prepositions
- Participle Prepositions
- Phrase Prepositions
- Disguised Prepositions
at, after, by, for, from, in, of, on, out, over, through, till, up, under, with, off, till, over, etc.
When a single preposition is not sufficient to express the sense, two simple prepositions are united together to express the feeling fully; as—into, from among, from within, from behind, over against, out of, etc.
- The man ran into the house.
- One man will be selected from among them.
- The seed has sprouted from under the ground.
- He came from within the house.
Compound prepositions are generally formed by prefixing a preposition (usually a = on or be = by) to a noun, an adjective or an adverb; as-across (= on + cross), amidst (= on + middle), behind ( = by + hind), about (= on + by + out), above (= on + by + up), before (= by + fore) beneath (= by + neath), between (=by + twain), beyond (= by + yonder), but (= by + out, except), within, without, below, etc.
Some present or past participles such as considering, concerning, regarding, pending, notwithstanding, etc. are used as prepositions; as
- Considering your age, I pardon you.
- Concerning yesterday’s fire, I know nothing.
- Do you know anything regarding his landed property?
- Notwithstanding his father’s anger, the boy did this.
- Pending further orders, Mr Chand will act as the principal.
Phrase prepositions or Prepositional phrases
“Two or more words habitually thrown together and ending with a simple preposition may be called Phrase prepositions or Prepositional phrases”; as-by means of, because of, in front of, in spite of, on account of, with regard to, on behalf of, instead of, in the place of, etc.
When the prepositions on and of are changed, into a and o respectively they are called Disguised prepositions; as
- This fair is held once a year (a = on).
- It’s ten o’clock now (o = of).
Uses of Preposition
Prepositions are used to indicate the following relations:
The preposition ‘About’
- on the subject of: It is a book about birds.
- at a time near to: We set out about six.
- in/round: We walked about the town.
- carried with: I have no money about.
- relating to: I’m glad about her success. I know nothing about his business.
- higher than (something)/on the top of: Birds were flying above the tree.
- more than: I saw above twenty beggars in the street. A soldier values honour above his life. Applicants must be above the age of twenty.
- higher in rank, position, etc.: She married above her.
- beyond the reach of: He is above suspicion. This passage is above my understanding.
The preposition ‘After’
- later than: She will come back after a week.
- in view of/in spite of: After what you did, what do all expect? After all my efforts, I still failed.
- in pursuit or quest of: They ran after the thief.
- about/concerning: I asked after her.
- in imitation of: This is a painting after Rubens. He works after Gandhiji.
- indicating much repetition: He fired shot after shot. We worked day after day/week after week.
- next to in order: Your name comes after mine in the list.
- in opposition to: We should fight against malaria. We are against the proposal. They rowed against the current
- in contact with: She leaned against the wall. Place the ladder against the tree.
- in anticipation of: We should save money against the rainy day. You should take precautions against fire.
- to the disadvantage of: My age is against me.
- opposite (something): Tick off the boxes against the true statements.
- expressing the position of person/thing: We waited at the corner of the street. She is at school. They live at Mahimpur. I saw the pictures at my uncle’s house.
- expressing a point in time: I reached home at noon/ at 12 am
- expressing engagement in an activity: He is at war/work.
- expressing a price/rate/speed: Rice sells at Rs. 15 each kilo. I bought this book for Rs. 100.00. He drives at 70 kmph (kilometer per hour).
- expressing age: Mr. Sinha retired at 60. She got married at 25.
- expressing direction (towards): The man was shooting at the crowd. The dog rushed at me. We ran at the thief. The boys threw stones at the frogs in the pond.
- in response to: He did the work at his master’s command.
- used with a superlative: The garden’s at its most beautiful in August. Shakespeare’s at his best in his tragedies.
- earlier than (somebody/something): I will come back home before noon They will come to our house before Christmas.
- in front of/ahead: He stood before her in the queue. We knelt before the shrine. Your name comes before mine on the list. The task before us is not an easy one. The future before me is bleak.
- in the presence of: He was brought before the police officer. “He said it before witnesses.”
- rather than/in preference to: I would prefer death before dishonour.
- in the rear of: She stood behind me. The post office is behind our house. Hide behind the tree.
- hidden or implied by: The sun is hidden behind the clouds. Bring out the deeper meaning behind the passage.
- inferior to/weaker than: She is behind other students in English grammar.
- indicating lateness in time: The train is behind its time (schedule).
- in favour of/supportive of: My family is behind me in my decision to read medicine.
The preposition ‘By’
- near/beside: She sat by me. There is a Post Office by my house.
- during: She sleeps by day and works by night.
- not later than before: Can you finish the work by tomorrow? I will go home by next week.
- through the agency or means of: The Cloud is a poem by Shelley. I went to Kolkata by bus. May I pay by cheque? I shall contact you by letter/telephone. He earns his living by writing.
- according to: One shouldn’t judge a thing by appearances.
- (with the) using something as a standard: He sold eggs by the dozen. (clothes by the metre)
- to the extent: The bullet missed him by two inches. The carpet is short by two feet.
- with regard to: He is German by birth. He is a teacher by profession. He is Salil by name.
- because of/as a result of/through: I met her by chance. You can achieve what you want by determination.
- indicating part of the body touched: She was seized by the hair.
The preposition ‘For’
- in the interest or to the benefit of: He did it all for his country. These mangoes are for you. Make a cup of tea for me.
- indicating purpose or function: He goes for a walk morning. It’s a machine for cutting hay. I draw pictures for pleasure. What did you shout at him for?
- indicating destination, aim, or reason: He set out for Kolkata. It’s a train for Howrah. It is a book for children. He was destined for a great future. These bicycles are for sale/hire.
- instead of: Substitute a noun for a verb. Will you exchange your car for a new one?
- as the price, reward, or penalty of something: I bought a book for Rs. 200.00. He got a medal for his bravery. You can go to prison for dangerous driving
- indicating preparations: He prepares for the Madhyamik examination.
- as a representative of somebody/something: I’m speaking for all the workers in this firm.
- in defence or support of (somebody/something): Are you for or against the new tax proposals? I am all for free mixing of boys and girls.
- (after a verb) in order to obtain (something): They searched for treasure. We asked the policeman for directions. We hope for a settlement. Send for a doctor.
- With regard to (somebody/something)/concerning (some-body/something): We’re anxious for his safety.
- because of: This place is famous for its Kali temple. I couldn’t go to school for illness. “I couldn’t speak for laughing.”
- indicating a length of time: He stayed in Kolkata for a week.
- indicating liking/affection: She has no love for her children. She has a taste for music.
- indicating fitness: He is not fit for this work.
- indicating distance: We travelled for ten kilometres. The road went on for miles and miles.
- in spite of: For all his efforts he failed in life.
- indicating the place or direction from which somebody/something starts: He goes from Naihati to Dum Dum daily. A strong wind blows from the north.
- indicating the time at which something starts: I’m on holiday from 15 January. There’s traffic in the streets from dawn till dusk. He was blind from birth.
- indicating who sent, gave something: I’ve received a letter from my sister. I had a phone call from Mira.
- indicating the source from which something is taken: She drew water from a well. He’s descended from a royal family. This is a passage from Macaulay.
- indicating the material from which something is made: Wine is made from grapes. Steel is made from iron.
- showing the model: The picture is painted from life.
- indicating separation, removal, etc: I took away the knife from him. I took the money from my purse. Have you borrowed the book from the library?
- showing cause/reason/motive: The poor suffer from cold in winter. She did it from jealousy. He died from overwork.
- showing a distinction between two things: His opinion differs from mine.
- indicating a standpoint: From a teacher’s point of view, this dictionary will be very useful.
The preposition ‘In’
- indicating place/position: She lives in Delhi. There’s not a cloud in the sky. The children are playing in the street. She is sitting in a chair.
- indicating movement into something: I dipped my pen in the ink.
- during (a period of time): He was born in 1990. Nature wears a happy look in autumn.
- after (a certain time): He will be leaving for Kolkata in an hour. (99 25)
- within (a certain time): He finished the work in two hours (2013)
- indicating inclusion: There are seven days in a week.
- wearing: She is dressed/clothed in rags.
- indicating circumstances/surroundings: He went out in the sun/cold.
- indicating the state/condition of somebody or something: He is in poor health. He is in a hurry/a rage. She lives in poverty.
- indicating form/arrangement: It’s a novel in two parts. The boys sat in rows.
- indicating the medium, means, material, etc.: Please speak in English. The letter was written in biro (a kind of ball pen). The lines were printed in italics/capitals. Say it in a few words.
- regarding something: He’s behind the others in English but a long way ahead in Mathematics. He lacks courage. India is rich in minerals.
- indicating somebody’s occupation, activity, etc.: He is in the army/in business. He’s been in politics all his life.
The preposition ‘Of’
- indicating origin/authorship: She is a woman of humble descent. We’re the inhabitants of the area. These are the paintings of Picasso.
- concerning/depicting: I love to read stories of adventure. What do you think of this boy?
- about (somebody/something): I’ve never heard of such places. “He told us of his travels.”
- indicating the material used to make something: She wears a dress of silk. We live in a house of brick. I got a ring of gold.
- indicating what is measured, counted, or contained: I bought two kilos of potatoes. She needs a sheet of paper. He has sent me two baskets of mangoes.
- showing the relationship between part and the whole of something: He is a member of our club. He worked for six months of the year.
- indicating a cause: She died of cholera.
- indicating a quality: He is a man of strong will. He is a man of great natural ability.
- indicating deprivation: I was robbed of my money.
- showing possession: She lives in the house of his aunt.
- Showing point of reference: This man is blind of one eye.
- In relation to concerning something: Do you know the time of his departure? What was the topic of conversation? He has no chance of winning. I need a dictionary of Hindi. He is a professor of Bengali.
- showing distance in time/space: I live in a village 40 kilometres west of Malda station. Within a year of their divorce, she remarried.
- (In or into a position) covering, touching: Look at the picture on the wall. There are dirty marks on the floor. Leave the glasses on the table. They sat on the grass.
- Supported by or attached to (somebody/something): We stood on one foot. He had a blister on his foot. He wore a ring on his finger. There is a coat on a hook. They sat on a chair.
- In/into (a large public vehicle): He got on a running bus. We travelled on the bus/train/tube
- Indicating time (in US English on is omitted): He came on January 12/ on the morning of May 12. We went for a picnic on a sunny day in December. The school remains closed on New Year’s Day.
- Immediately after (the time of): On my arrival home/on arriving home I discovered the burglary. On the death of his parents, he became helpless.
- About/concerning: He will speak on Rabindranath today. This is a lesson on philosophy.
- Indicating membership of a group/an organization: He is on the managing committee of this school/panel of lecturers/staff of this college.
- Indicating direction towards: On the right, you can see the temple. He drew a knife on the stranger.
- (Also upon) near close to: My house is on the main road. He lives in a village on the border. There are hedges on either side of the road.
- (Also upon) indicating a basis/ground/reason for something: This story is based on fact. On your advice, I saw him. He has been arrested on a charge of murder.
- Supported financially by (somebody/something): I live on a pension/ my savings. He feeds his family on Rs. 800.00 a week. He lives on his wife’s salary.
- By means of (something); using: He plays a song on his violin. I spoke to her on the telephone.
- Indicating food: Cows live on grass. He lives on his wife’s salary.
- Indicating condition: The man was appointed on these terms.
- At the expense of: The joke is on him. The drinks are on me.
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