1. What is a Preposition?

Definition and Scope of Preposition

A word, that is placed before a noun or noun-equivalent or a pronoun to express its positional relation to other words in a sentence to make complete sense of the sentence, is called a Preposition. Sometimes it can also be used as a noun. It can also sit before a phrase or a clause. It may join a noun to another noun, a noun to a verb, a noun to an adjective as well e.g.,

  • The cat is sitting under the table.
  • He is a friend of my brother.
  • Are you there in the room?
  • The patient is about to die.
  • I have left the town for good.
  • I was unaware of how this tool works.

2. Kinds of Preposition

Prepositions are of several kinds.

Simple Preposition

e.g., in, at, on, by, of, off, out, etc.

Compound Preposition

e.g., inside, onto, into, below, along, across, atop, etc.

Double Preposition

e.g., from within, from behind, etc.

Participle Preposition

e.g., concerning, regarding, expecting, past, etc.

Detached Preposition

When it does not sit by its object. e.g., Give me a pen to write with.

Disguised Preposition

e.g., a(on), o(of), o'(of the), etc. (remains hidden);

Phrasal Preposition

e.g., in case of, addition to, on account of, instead of, by means of, in spite of, owing to, by dint of, along with, according to, in accordance with, on behalf of, etc.

3. Kinds of Preposition according to usage

Preposition of Time

at, by, during, on , in, after, within, from, to, for, since, etc.
  • I will reach home at 5 p.m. (refers to exact time)
  • He will reach home at Durga Puja. (exact event)
  • I will return home at evening. (parts of the day)
  • I will have reached home by 5 p.m. (deadline)
  • During summer vacation I will go to Shimla. (continuation of a time period)
  • I will return home on 5th instant. (before date)
  • I will return home on Monday. (before day)
  • I will return home in December. (before month)
  • I will return home in 2025. (before year)
  • I will return home in summer. (season)
  • I will return home in the morning. (parts of the day)
  • Please give me your book and I will return it in a week. (with present & future tense)
  • She took my book and returned it after a week. (with past tense only)
  • Wait here I will come within five minutes. (period of time for a action to be done)
  • He works from dawn to dusk. (starting & ending)
  • We have been learning English since 2 pm. (point of time)
  • We have been learning English for an hour. (period of time)

Preposition of Place

at, between, among, amongst, by, below, above, over, under, underneath, along, across, on, beneath, upon, in, inside, etc.
  • I will wait for you at the bus stop. (refers an exact place)
  • Someone is there at the door. (refers an exact place)
  • I live at Bally. (for smaller places)
  • I live in Howrah. (for bigger places)
  • I live at Howrah in India. (combination of smaller and larger places)
  • The property was divided between two brothers. (‘between’ refers two persons)
  • The property was divided among five brothers. (‘among’ refers more than two persons)
  • Distribute the sweets amongst us. (before vowel sound)
  • Amongst all the boys Ravi proved to be the most sincere. (before selection or choice)
  • Between the boys Ravi proved to be the most sincere. (even for more than two in case of selection or choice)
  • He is standing by the river. (beside something)
  • His performance is below the average. (lower than)
  • The sun rises above the horizon. (higher than)
  • The bird flew over the home. (higher than & when the object is in motion)
  • The moon is shining above my head. (higher than & when the object is in motion)
  • He sat under a tree. (lower than & coverd surrunded by the object)
  • There were many shops along the river in that place. (beside the river)
  • There was a bridge acorss the river in that place. (crossing the)
  • The book is on the table. (higher position & object touches the surface)
  • The soil beneath my feet is slippery. (lower position touching the surface)
  • The tunnel goes right underneath the town. (inside earth/soil)
  • He was wearing a T-shirt underneath his jacket. (inside a dress)
  • The dog jumped upon the cat. (movement changing surface without touch)
  • Do not go inside the room. (movement)
  • He is in the room. (no movement, has been there)

Preposition of Direction

at, to, towards, into, beyond, with, by, in, on, of, from, etc.
  • He threw a stone at the dog. (refers meaning)
  • He has gone to the railway station. (motion toward something/somewhere)
  • He has gone towards the railway station. (only direction)
  • She fell into a ditch. (movement of the doer/subject inside of something/somewhere)
  • She threw the souvenir in a ditch. (doer threw an object)
  • He lives beyond this town. (out of the town)
  • The Mahabharata was written by Vashya with hand with quill in ink in paper. (by agent, with instrument, in ink, in paper)
  • The Mahabharata was first published in paper later on digital media. (in paper but on screen)
  • She was killed with bullets. (countable instrument)
  • She was killed in poison. (uncountable instrument)
  • The house is made of brick. (ingredients are separable)
  • The cake is made from sugar, flower, eggs, etc. (ingredients are not separable)

4. The force of the preposition <AT>

  • The owl roams at night.
  • I wake up at dawn.
  • He came at morning.
  • They read the Geeta at evening.
  • He is at the library.
  • She is at college.
  • We are at home.
  • It is winter at present.
  • Stop your vehicle at a distance.
  • They are at study.
  • Live at peace.
  • Call her at lunch.
  • Only two are still at liberty.
  • The examination is at hand.
  • Bananas sell at two for a rupee.

5. The force of the preposition <BY>

  • We travel by car/boat/rail/auto.
  • The letter came by post.
  • Cloth sells by the metre.
  • I can recon him by name/look/sight.
  • It is 5 o’clock by my watch.
  • Study by example, it lasts longer.
  • I met her by chance.
  • The cup is designed by hand.
  • This is ten feet by twelve feet court.
  • In Covid people die by millions.
  • His mother died by poison.
  • I paid him by cheque.

6. The force of the preposition <FOR>

  • The train stops here for two minutes.
  • The train started for Delhi.
  • She is trained for taking care of babies.
  • The man is taken for granted.
  • She is a rogue for all that you say.
  • India was for war.
  • She is exceptionally talented for a girl of her age.
  • The boy gives a blow for a blow.
  • Read the passage word for word.
  • Gandhi was imprisoned for sedition.
  • She gave me good for evil.

7. The force of the preposition <FROM>

  • I was away from home. (separation in space)
  • The man worked from early evening. (commencement in time)
  • This she did from a private grudge. (motif of action)
  • The Ganges flows from the Himalayas. (origin or source)
  • Man can know right from wrong. (discrimination)
  • She must be a fool from her utterances. (conclution)

8. The force of the preposition <OF>

  • She died of Cholera. (cause)
  • The man comes of a respectable family. (origin)
  • The dacoits robbed me of my all. (separation)
  • The bags are made of chrome leather. (material)
  • This is a book of my sister’s. (possession)
  • I visited the city of Burdwan. (apposition)
  • She is blind of an eye. (with regard to)
  • The king is noted for the love of his subjects. (subjective force, the king loves his subjects)
  • The king prefers the love of his subject to everything else. (objection force, i.e., the subjects love their king)
  • She gave me a book of fairy tales. (containing or consisting of)

9. The force of the preposition <IN>

  • He is in his garden. (place)
  • I was in hurry then, because I was in danger. (situation)
  • The thief was in arms. (with weapons)
  • He keeps his wife in dark about his proffession. (not disclosed)
  • She came to know in time. (at the right time)
  • He is in power now. (with the charge)
  • In truth, I did not do my home work. (honestly speaking)
  • I gave him 1 lakh rupees in cash. (in notes)
  • She is in pain. (mental/physical condition)
  • All looks bright in the sun. (sunlight)
  • I will return home in the evening. (parts of the day)
  • We sat in the shade of the tree. (shade/shadow)

10. The force of the preposition <ON>

  • She saw me on the street. (place)
  • We live on the fourth floor of the apartment. (a level of a building)
  • He walks a mile every day on foot. (means of travel)
  • Laxman Sena was attacked by the afghans came on horseback. (means of travel)
  • The policeman was there on duty when the lady was shot. (duty)
  • The theatre was on fire immediatly after the show was over. (burning)
  • She likes to play the tune on harmonium. (with a musical instrument)
  • Howrah is on the bank of the river Hooghly. (beside)
  • I have been living on water since last Tuesday. (only water, nothing else)
  • What is your take on this note? (consideration/remark)
  • Mr. Bhattacharjee was on the committee. (inclution)
  • The train came on time. (puntuality)

11. The force of the preposition <TO>

  • The thief was beaten to death. (until he died)
  • What is she to you? (relation)
  • I was asked to go to bed at 11 o’clock. (for sleep)
  • The thief went to the bed in search of the keys. (walked near the bed)
  • I fought to the last moment. (extreamly hard)
  • She did it to her cost. (her work damaged her)
  • Ten is to five as two is to one. (ratio)

12 The force of the preposition <UNDER>

  • Whales sleep under the deep ocean.
  • I sat under the tree.
  • The project is under state government.
  • He was under trial at that time.
  • My going to his house is under consideration.
  • The murderer is under sentence to death.

13. The force of the preposition <WITH>

  • He was turned out with all his belongings. (union in place)
  • He killed his foe with a sword. (instrument)
  • On no account should you part with the ring. (separation)
  • With all his knowledge he is but a fool. (in spite of)
  • Crops begin to grow with the rains. (commencement in time)
  • The man fell in with my views. (agreement)
  • The teacher loohed around with annoyance. (manner)
  • What with illness, what with negligence he could not keep pace with the class. (cause)
  • The new Headmaster is not popular with his boys. (with regard to)
  • The English fought with the German. (opposition)
  • The English with the French fought against the Russians. (combination)

14. The force of certain other prepositions

  • He set about the business in right earnest.
  • His conduct is above suspicion
  • He is the man afler ny he art.
  • After all that I have said he is a great scholar.
  • He has saved something against his old age.
  • He was at work throughout the day.
  • Starvation before begging.
  • The patient is past human aid.

15. Some verbs do not take preposition after them in active voice

attack, affect, await, accompany, board, befall, comprise, consider, concern, describe, direct, demand, discuss, ensure, eschew, enter, investigate, invade, join, lack, order, pervade, precede, reach, resemble, resign, regret, resist, stress, succeed, sign, violate, etc.
  • Army forces have been attacking the city since dawn.
  • Police are investigating allegations of corruption.
  • She is anxiously awaiting her test results.
  • At Delhi airport he boarded a plane to Chennai.

→ See a few more examples

16. Verbs of communication ignore ‘to’ after them

ask, advice, beg, command, encourage, inform, request, tell, order, urge, pray (exception, to God), etc.
  • I asked him accompany me.
  • I adviced him accompany her.
  • I told him go.

17. Some verbs do not allow preposition before indirect object.

ask, bring, buy, cost, find, fetch, get, hand, leave, offer, promise, read, sell, show, sing, etc.
  • I asked you to come.
  • Wow! You brought pencils with pens!
  • I shall buy you this ring.

18. Some verbs takes prepositions in special cases

entrust, furnish, present, provide, supply, etc.
  • I supplied him with goods.
  • I supplied goods to him.

19. Someimes preposition sits after infinitive, if it qualifies a noun

  • He has only one bat to play with.
  • Mrityunjaya got a hermit to go after.
  • In 2020, I had no proper house to live in.

20. Prepositions asked in WBCS (Prelims)