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What is a Preposition?


Preposition Examples and Definition

A preposition is a relationship word that connects nouns, pronouns, and phrases together with different words in a sentence. Once you’re done with this article, see this page for more information.

At first, this definition might be a bit difficult to understand, especially if you’re learning English as a second language. Don’t stress! Here’s an easier to understand preposition definition that should clarify things.

Prepositions explain two key pieces of information:

  1. The physical location of a noun or pronoun
  2. The location of a noun or pronoun in time

There are two forms of physical location words. Firstly, you can describe the position of a noun or pronoun using words likeatin, or on.

Stacy is at the beach.

His chips are in the pantry.

Secondly, you can describe the direction of a noun or pronoun in relation to another phrase. To describe direction, you use words like behindinsidedown, and between.

The baseball landed behind the neighbor’s fence.

John is still inside his house.

Quick Tip: Before you continue, develop your citation skills by learning about MLA format or APA format! It’ll help make it easier to track your research sources.

Overall, there are more than 100 relationship words to learn and use! To better understand relationship words, here are additional examples:

Nancy went to school after doing her homework.

Jacob kicked the ball across the yard.

Your keys are on the table.

Ugh! The apple rolled underneath the refrigerator.

*Grammar tip: Adding an interjection ike “ugh” can help add emotion to your sentence.”

Looking to explore more grammar topics? Check out our grammar pages on determining a determiner, and knowing what a conjunction is.

What’s a Prepositional Phrase?

As you can see in the examples above, relationship words come in pairs with objects. Objects are the nouns and pronouns found in a sentence.

For instance, let’s look at an example:

The cat beside the tree.

In this example, the object is the cat. The relationship word is beside. The object and relationship word connect with the second noun in the sentence, the tree.

You’ll also find a relationship phrase, which is beside the tree.

As you can tell, the phrase doesn’t have a verb. There’s also no subject and only the preposition, beside, and the noun, tree. In a relationship phrase you can also have a pronoun instead of a noun.

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A Few Rules to Help with Relationship Words

In a prepositional phrase you always have an object and a relationship word. For example:

  • In the classroom
  • Across the street

You can add adjectives to relationship phrases. They go between the relationship word and the object. For example:

  • In the small classroom
  • Across the busy street

Since the object is a noun or pronoun, you can even have multiple relationship words and object words within one sentence. Here’s a sentence using more than one object and relationship word:

Over the weekend Stephanie took a trip on an airplane for the first time.

In this example there are three prepositions: overon, and for. First, you have the word over which is the relationship word for the noun weekend. It explains when Stephanie took her trip.

Second, there’s the word on, which modifies the noun airplane. It explains the vehicle Stephanie rode to take her trip.

Finally, there’s the word for. It modifies the noun time. The final part of the sentence tells the reader that she’s never travelled on an airplane before this weekend.

Now you understand relationship words, but remember, they don’t have to be boring! Learn more here to discover helpful information about relationship words. You can also add an adverb or an adjective to your sentence to give your reader more details. The possibilities are endless!

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