What is a preposition?

by Simon September 27, 2020

Prepositions are words we use to show the relationship between two things or people.

An important thing to remember about prepositions is that they must always be followed by a noun. They can never be followed by a verb.

In the video, we take a look some simple prepositions: ‘on’, ‘behind’, ‘in front of’ and ‘between’.

Prepositions in English

A preposition is a word that shows the relationship between two things or people.

Prepositions are always followed by a noun or pronoun in English.


The book is on the table.

The house is behind them.

Simple Prepositions

Simple prepositions include words like ‘in’, ‘on’, ‘between’ and ‘after’. Simple prepositions are often used to show how things relate to each other in location and time.


Examples of prepositions showing location (or place):

The cheese is in the fridge.

The cat is on the mat.

The chair is under the table.

I walked through the park.


Example of prepositions showing time:

Wednesday is after Tuesday

I will eat lunch at 1pm.

The teacher left the classroom before the students.

Compound Prepositions

Prepositions can contain more than one word. For example; ‘in front of’, ‘in the middle of’ and ‘apart from’ are prepositions.

We call these kinds of prepositions compound prepositions or complex prepositions.

Examples of compound prepositions in sentences:

The table is in front of the TV. 

The car is in the middle of the street.

There is nobody in the room apart from me.

A Part of Speech

Prepositions are what we call a ‘part of speech’, that is they are a category – or type – of word.

A word is categorised as a particular ‘part of speech’ according to what it’s purpose is – what we use it for.

As we said before, prepositions are words we use to describe the relationship between things, people and ideas.

Other parts of speech include ‘verbs’, ‘nouns’, and ‘adjectives’.

Test Yourself

Choose the correct preposition.

1 / 5

He is standing _______ them.

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2 / 5

She is _________ the other students.

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3 / 5

They are sitting _______ the sofa.

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4 / 5

Their hands are ______ their heads.

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5 / 5

The cliffs are __________ them.

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Your score is


Preposition: a word we use to describe the relationship bertween two things or people.

Noun: The name of a thing, person or idea.

Relationship: The connection between two things or people.

Part of Speech: A category, or type of word.

Thank you for reading our post. You’ll find more English grammar tips elsewhere on our site and if you’d like information about our online english courses, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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