What is a Preposition? Definition, Examples, and List of Prepositions

Preposition definition: A preposition is a part of speech that shows the relation of a noun or pronoun to another word.

What is a Preposition?

What are prepositions? Prepositions show the relationship of a noun or pronoun to another word. These relationships include where, when, who, or what.

Examples of Prepositions:

  • above (where?)
  • before (when?)
  • for (whom?)
  • with (what?)

Let’s look closer at a preposition example.

A preposition can be understood as anywhere a dog can be in relation to its doghouse.

A dog can be:

  • in the doghouse
  • around the doghouse
  • near the doghouse
  • on the doghouse

Each of these prepositions describe the relation between the dog and its doghouse. The dog can be inside the doghouse, it can be around the doghouse, it can be near the doghouse, it can be on the doghouse, etc.

All of these preposition examples show where the dog is in relation to its doghouse.

What is the Role of a Preposition?

Prepositional phrase listPrepositions function to show relationship. This relationship may indicate where, when, who, or what.

Most often prepositions are used to introduce prepositional phrases.

Prepositions serve to modify and generally function in prepositional phrases as adjectives or adverbs.

Examples of prepositions indicating where:

  • along (the path)
  • amid (torment)
  • throughout (the garden)
  • within (men)

Examples of prepositions indicating when:

  • since (the storm)
  • after (the party)
  • before (noon)
  • until (tomorrow)

Examples of prepositions indicating who:

  • besides (Petra)
  • except (the children)
  • with (everyone)
  • for (the teacher)

Examples of prepositions indicating what:

  • besides (the essay)
  • of (the few)
  • like (the dog)
  • with (chocolate)

Preposition List

What is preposition wordsHere is a list of prepositions. It is by no means exhaustive, but it is a list of some of the most commonly used prepositions in English.

aboard
about
above
across
after
against
along
amid
among
anti
around
as
at
before
behind
below
beneath
beside
besides
between
beyond
but
by
concerning
considering
despite
down
during
except
excepting
excluding
following
for
from
in
inside
into
like
minus
near
of
off
on
onto
opposite
outside
over
past
per
plus
regarding
round
save
since
than
through
to
toward
towards
under
underneath
unlike
until
up
upon
versus
via
with
within
without

For a more full list of prepositions, see our full page on the subject. Prepositions list here.

Object of Prepositions

Examples of Preposition meaningPrepositions do not stand alone but rather take on objects. The word or words that follow the preposition are the object of the preposition.

Examples:

  • along (the path)
    • The path is the object of the preposition.
  • amid (torment)
    • Torment is the object of the preposition.
  • throughout (the colorful garden)
    • The colorful garden is the object of the preposition.

Some Prepositions Also Function as Subordinate Conjunctions

what is an prepositionSome prepositions can also function as subordinate conjunctions. In this case, a preposition will begin the conjunction and it will be followed by a subject and a verb.

The prepositions that can function in subordinate conjunctions include: after, as, before, since, until.

Prepositions together within subordinate conjunctions function as adverbs.

Preposition Examples:      

  • Since the movie premiered, the star has received much attention.
  • We could not make an appointment until the office opened the following day.
  • The student did not think before he asked a question.

What are Prepositional Phrases?

What does prepositional phrase mean? Almost always a preposition will function in a prepositional phrase.

A prepositional phrase is any preposition and its object (a noun). A prepositional phrase may also include any modifiers in the phrase.

Prepositional phrases clarify the relationship of the preposition to other words.

Prepositional Phrase Examples:

  • along the path
    • along (prep.) + the (article) + path (noun) = prepositional phrase
  • amid torment
    • amid (prep.) + torment (noun) = prepositional phrase
  • throughout (the colorful garden)
    • throughout (prep.) + the (article) + colorful (adj.) + garden (noun) = prepositional phrase

Multiple prepositional phrases may exist within one larger prepositional phrase.

Prepositional Phrase Examples:

  • within all of the men
    • within all + of the men = prepositional phrase
  • by the lake in the forest
    • by the lake + in the forest = prepositional phrase
  • on the table at the restaurant
    • on the table + at the restaurant = prepositional phrase

Summary: What are Prepositions?

Define preposition: To clarify, prepositions:

  • show the relationship of a word to a noun or pronoun
  • are almost always used in prepositional phrases
  • sometimes begin subordinate conjunctions
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