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Prepositions are words that connect nouns, pronouns, or phrases with other words in a sentence. They introduce or precede these nouns, pronouns, or phrases, which are known as the object of the preposition. Prepositions tell us if the object has a relationship of sequence, space, or logic with the rest of the sentence. They also indicate direction, time, place, manner, cause, and amount. Prepositions are always followed by a noun or pronoun, never by a verb. Using prepositions correctly is critical to good writing.

Look at the following examples:

She put the book on the table.

(The preposition “on” shows the position of the noun “book.”)

Myra and Katie came by bus.

(The preposition “by” shows the manner in which the nouns “Myra and Katie” came.)

They will be here at 5 o’clock.

(The preposition “at” shows the time at which the pronoun “they” will be “here.”)

Paul went to the store.

(The preposition “to” shows the direction of the noun “Paul.”)

6 Types of Prepositions

Prepositions can be categorized into six main types:

1. Simple Prepositions

Simple prepositions are single words that determine the relationship between nouns or pronouns and the rest of the sentence. They are used to describe time, place, or location and can also join clauses in complex and compound sentences. Commonly used simple prepositions are at, for, in, off, on, over, under, from, up, after, with, till, etc.

Example sentences:

The cat was sleeping on the bed.

Are you coming with us?

The Eiffel Tower is in Paris.

The treasure was buried under a tree.

2. Double Prepositions

Double prepositions are formed by joining two simple prepositions to make a new word. A lot of double prepositions indicate direction. Commonly used double prepositions are upon, from within, without, onto, out of, inside of, outside of, from beneath, from behind, because of, according to, from above, throughout, etc.

Example sentences:

She was out of her mind with grief and anxiety.

He waved at me from beneath his umbrella.

They always did everything according to the rules.

She munched on her popcorn throughout the movie.

3. Compound Prepositions

Often confused with double prepositions, compound prepositions combine a simple preposition with a non-preposition such as a noun, an adjective, or an adverb. Commonly used compound prepositions are along with, on top of, outside of, next to, on account of, as of, aside from, out of, due to, close to, instead of, etc.

Example sentences:

His shoes were on top of the cupboard.

They delayed the match due to heavy rain.

The dog sat next to me as I watched T.V.

Mary has always been close to her father.

4. Participial Prepositions

Participial prepositions are participles (ed or ing verbs) that function as prepositions. Commonly used participial prepositions are assuming, regarding, notwithstanding, during, barring, given, provided, excluding, considering, including, concerning, owing, etc.

Example sentences:

He will succeed provided he works hard.

Assuming the weather forecast is accurate, it will be sunny today.

He was on time notwithstanding the rain.

I wish to talk to you regarding this matter. 

5. Phrasal Prepositions

These are groups of words or phrases that join a noun or a pronoun to the rest of the sentence. Phrasal prepositions help express a specific idea by working as a unit. Commonly used phrasal prepositions are in spite of, in addition to, in favor of, owing to, by means of, according to, in front of, instead of, in place/lieu of, in order to, by way of, by virtue of, etc.

Example sentences:

He couldn’t pass the test, owing to his lack of knowledge of algebra,

In spite of great difficulties, he made it to the top of his profession.

I intend to consult my mother instead of asking my sister for advice.

I stand here in front of you all to talk about the grave dangers of climate change.

6. Detached Prepositions

Detached prepositions are associated with adverbs or interrogative/relative pronouns and are located at the end of a sentence. Commonly used detached prepositions are for, from, at, in, with, to, etc.

Example sentences

What are you talking about?

Here are all the documents you asked for.

You know where I come from.

I have no idea what you’re driving at.

The English language has relatively few prepositions, and most of them are pretty short. Knowing their different types, however, can make a big difference in communication.

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Based on the number/type of words they are composed of, prepositions can be simple, double, compound, participial, phrasal, or detached.
Based on the number/type of words they are composed of, prepositions can be simple, double, compound, participial, phrasal, or detached.
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