Prepositions are relationship words that link nouns, pronouns, verbs and phrases together in a sentence. Without prepositions, it would be impossible to communicate. Keep reading for a list of common prepositions in the English language, and read several examples that show you how to use them.
List of Common Prepositions and How to Use Them
Common Prepositions List
There are several hundred prepositions in the English language, all of which are used to show a relationship between ideas. One way to remember prepositions is to think about anywhere a mouse can run. A mouse can run up, over, down, under, to, and from something. The preposition connects the mouse to the other noun in the sentence.
Learning the rules for prepositions is key. This list of prepositions can help you understand how to find them and why they are so important. See how many you already know — and how many you haven’t used before.
If you’d like a longer list of common English prepositions, download the printable PDF below. It’s a great resource for writers, students and English learners.
Examples of Prepositions in Sentences
Prepositions are important to understand on their own, but they make the most sense in the context of a sentence. There are three main ways to use prepositions in a sentence:
- to show location (spatial relationships)
- to show time (temporal relationships)
- to show connections between ideas (logical relationships)
Most prepositions function in more than one way. For example, the preposition over can be used in all three ways:
- Location - My gloves are over there.
- Time - The hospital is over an hour away.
- Idea - George isn’t over his ex-girlfriend yet.
Take a look at the following sentences that use prepositions in these ways. You may find that you use prepositions properly more often than you think!
Examples That Show Location
Many prepositions show a noun’s literal location in space (spatial relationships). Words like across, next to, and through can help a reader understand exactly where something or someone is. Examples of prepositions functioning to show location include:
- Try not to sit across from your brother at Thanksgiving dinner.
- Set up the chairs along the far wall, please.
- It's good to be among friends.
- He's waiting for you at the front door.
- The coffee mugs are by the water glasses.
- Please don't sit next to me.
- Would someone please get this bug off me?
- Let's go sit on that stone wall.
- Alice went through the looking glass.
- He's going to the store.
- Look up at the hot air balloon.
Examples That Show Time
The English language uses prepositions to show relationships of time (temporal relationships) as well as location. While the word around works in the spatial phrase “around the block,” it also works in the temporal phrase “around noon.” Take a look at these sentences that show relationships of time:
- Let's go out for dinner after the show.
- It will take around an hour to fix your car.
- Maria got to work at 8:00.
- Did she arrive before he did?
- We’ll be there between 9:00 and 10:00.
- Do not talk during meditation.
- The American Civil War lasted from 1861 to 1865.
- I'll be there in five minutes.
- It’s already an hour past my curfew.
- Teenagers can’t drive until they’re 15 years old.
Examples That Show Connections Between Ideas
It’s common to find prepositions that show connections between ideas (logical relationships). They connect two nouns that aren’t literally near each other but have another logical connection. Examples of sentences with these prepositions include:
- Tell me about the game last night.
- I’m voting against the candidate who wants to raise taxes.
- Nora works as a librarian at the university.
- Everyone went to Paris but Amy.
- I would take you home, except I'm running late.
- That cake is for the party tonight.
- She looks just like her grandmother at that age.
- You remind me of someone else.
- My brothers were fighting over the car.
- She lives with her husband and 4 cats.
Play With Prepositions
Once you’re comfortable with prepositions, you’ll notice (and use) them everywhere. Knowing how these words work for you is a sophisticated part of writing in English. If you’re ready for more of a challenge, learn all about prepositional phrases and how they function. You can also answer the age-old question: "Is it ever okay to end a sentence with a preposition?"