Preposition: Definition & Types

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Preposition: Definition & Types

What is preposition

A preposition is a word that indicates the relationship between a noun and the other words of a sentence. They explain relationships of sequence, space, and logic between the object of the sentence and the rest of the sentence. They help us understand order, time connections, and positions.


  • I am going to Canada.
  • Alex threw a stone into the pond.
  • The present is inside the box.
  • They have gone out of the town.

There are a few interesting linguistic facts about prepositions.

First, they are a closed class of words which means no new preposition gets added to the language. We use a fixed set of prepositions.

Second, prepositions do not have any other form. They cannot be plural, possessive, inflection, or anything else.

Third, most of the prepositions have many different contextual and natural uses. So, it is easy to be confused about it.

Fourth, sometimes a preposition works as nouns, adjectives, and adverbs.

Prepositions can be of one, two, three, or even more words. Prepositions with two or more words are called phrasal prepositions.

There are some commonly used phrasal prepositions:

because of, in case of, instead of, by way of, on behalf of, on account of, in care of, in spite of, on the side of, etc.


Types of Preposition

Most of the prepositions have many uses. There are some prepositions which are common in every type of preposition as they function in a versatile way.

Simple Preposition

These are among the most common type of prepositions. The prepositions used to express the relationship the Nouns and Pronouns of a sentence have with the rest of the words in it are called Simple Prepositions. They are often used to join two clauses in terms of Complex Sentence and Compound Sentence.


Most Popular Prepositions
and but at to on in
for of up off from out
with during down below beside over
by near behind inside among along

Double Preposition

Two Simple Prepositions joining together to form one which connects the Noun(s) or Pronoun(s) to the rest the words in a sentence.


  • Are you out of your mind?
  • I was allowed the inside of the temple.
  • She’s sandwiched in between two of her cousins. 

Compound Preposition

Compound Prepositions are composed of prepositions as well as other words. Compound Prepositions are easily confused with Double Prepositions since they both require other prepositions or words to help with acting like a preposition.


  • According to my calculations, this color should work just fine.
  • I started for home, with a view to celebrating Eid with my family.
  • On behalf of our family, my father attended the family reunion.

Participle Preposition

Present Participles (-ing) and Past Participles (-ed and -en) that are used as Prepositions instead of Verbs, are called Participle Prepositions. These are participles as well as prepositions.


Present Participle Prepositions Past Participles Prepositions
Assuming Respected
Barring Given
Considering Gone
During Barred
Notwithstanding Provided
Regarding Taken

Participle Prepositions Used in Sentences:

  • Barred from the entrance, he threw a fit.
  • I was happy given the fact that I got great marks.
  • Assuming the possibility of rain, she carried an umbrella.

Disguised Preposition

These prepositions are usually disguised as some other element in the English language. Often these prepositions are disguised as "a" and "o" in sentences.


  • I wake up at 5 o'clock. (Of the clock)
  • Keep striding ahead. (on the head)
  • Pope went ashore. (onshore)
  • Rimi visits the riverbank once a day. (in a day) 

Detached Preposition

A preposition that has been detached and sent to the very end of the sentence is called Detached Preposition. These prepositions are detached from the interrogative or relative pronouns and adverbs but get detached for the sake of the integrity of sentences.


  • Where are you coming from?
  • Is that the neighborhood you are headed to?
  • I won't tolerate being screamed at.

Prepositions of Time

Prepositions of time show the relationship of time between the nouns to the other parts of a sentence.

On, at, in, from, to, for, since, ago, before, till/until, by, etc. are the most common preposition of time.


  • He started working at 10 AM.
  • The company called meeting on 25 October.
  • There is a holiday in December.
  • He has been ill since Monday.

Read More: Prepositions of Time Usage

Prepositions of Place and Direction

Prepositions of place show the relationship of place between the nouns to the other parts of a sentence.

On, at, in, by, from, to, towards, up, down, across, between, among, through, in front of, behind, above, over, under, below, etc. are the most common prepositions of place/direction.


  • He is at home.
  • He came from England.
  • The police broke into the house.
  • I live across the river.

Read More: Prepositions of Places & Direction Usage

Prepositions of Agents or Things

Prepositions of agents or things indicate a causal relationship between nouns and other parts of the sentence.

Of, for, by, with, about, etc. are the most used and common prepositions of agents or things.


  • This article is about smartphones.
  • Most of the guests have already left.
  • I will always be here for you.
  • He is playing with his brothers.

Phrasal Prepositions

A phrasal preposition is not a prepositional phrase, but they are a combination of two or more words that function as a preposition.

Along with, apart from, because of, by means of, according to, in front of, contrary to, in spite of, on account of, in reference to, in addition to, in regard to, instead of, on top of, out of, with regard to, etc. are the most common phrasal prepositions.


  • They along with their children went to Atlanta.
  • According to the new rules, you are not right.
  • In spite of being a good player, he was not selected.
  • I’m going out of the city.


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