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Prepositions Made Simple! Examples & Definitions

Prepositions are small words with big impact. You probably use words such as for, at, and on often while speaking in English. Yet, it’s difficult to be sure that you’re using these words in the correct way. In fact, words in this part of speech are often misused by native and bilingual speakers alike. That’s because it’s easier to focus on the other major parts of speech like nouns and verbs.

Before jumping into this topic, check out this incredible grammar check! Citation Machine also has helpful tools that can create citations for your papers in MLA format.

Almost all prepositions are under six letters in length. Due to this fact, both teachers and students can easily overlook discussing the proper use of these words. But don’t worry about not knowing this part of speech just yet. You’re about to learn a basic definition of preposition, so that you know how to use these words the right way.

What is a preposition? A preposition can function several ways in a sentence. It can help you describe the time when something happens. In the sentence “My birthday falls on Christmas Eve,” on is an example of a time describing word.

These words can also show where something or someone is, or where an action takes place.

  • I’m staying at home and watching a movie tonight.

This is a good example of a place connecting word in action.

This group of words can even explain direction by helping describe a location. Read this sentence:

  • You’ll find me next to the doughnut shop.

It contains an example of a location connection word.

In addition to describing time, place, and direction, prepositions also introduce objects.

  • I’ll watch for the all clear signal to show that I can enter the room.

Before you learn more about the different ways you can use these words, let’s learn this preposition definition. A preposition is a connecting function word. It shows your audience the relationship between words in a sentence. Click here for an alternate definition.

Most commonly, you use these words to connect nouns, pronouns, and noun phrases with other words in a sentence. Using a preposition with a noun phrase creates a connecting phrase. You’ll usually find phrases before a sentence’s object.

So, what is a prepositional phrase? You can define preposition phrase as a group of words that contain a preposition and another word. However, the phrase does not contain a verb or subject. Instead, the phrase part of a sentence includes a connecting word, an optional modifier, and a noun, pronoun, or gerund.

Since prepositions define or introduce phrases quite often, you’ll find that connecting words in a sentence normally begin connecting phrases. There’s a lot to learn about phrases, which you’ll find in another post. For now, try to determine what the connecting phrase is in each of the following sentences:

  • The box with purple gift-wrapping paper is your mother's.
  • I saw the thieves climb up the ladder.
  • He ran through the forest for hours.

Can you tell where the phrases begin and end? Here are the phrases in each sentence above:

  1. With purple gift-wrapping paper
  2. Up the ladder
  3. Through the forest

How’d you do? Before learning about the different types of connecting words, why not take a quick break. Take some time to learn about APA format and more styles of creating academic citations.

Let’s Define the Different Types

What is a Preposition of Time?

How would you tell someone that you need to go to work or school at a certain time? You could say:

  • I must go to work at 8:00am on Monday.

Or perhaps you would say something like:

  • I have class in ten minutes.

Both of these sentences tell your audience that something needs to happen at a certain time. That’s the purpose of time connecting words.

Here’s a basic time preposition definition: Time connecting words let you describe a certain time when something will occur. There are three connecting words that describe time. These words are at, in, and on. Although there aren’t many time connecting words, each one has many uses. Look at the following examples:

  • Tim has tea with Tina at ten on Tuesdays.
  • My mother always makes mousse in the mornings.
  • Do you want to go for a dive next weekend?

What is a Preposition of Place and What is a Preposition of Direction?

Here is a simple place and direction prepositions definition: Certain describing words that help you explain where something occurs.

The words you use to describe place are the exact same words you use to describe when something happens. There’s just one difference between using time and place connecting words: The words that accompany connecting words in a sentence explain whether you’re speaking about time or a certain location. Otherwise, you’ll still use the words at, in, and on for both. So, how can you explain location using these words? Here are a few examples showing you how to do it.

  • What happened? I waited at our meeting spot after class.
  • My dog Jack loves playing in the backyard.
  • I always forget my keys whenever I set them on the table.

There are also connecting words that describe direction. These words help you tell others where someone or something is located. There are many more direction connecting words than there are time or place words. Here are a few sentences that tell you the location of something.

  • We would like to walk along the beach.
  • My dog just ran around the corner.
  • The movie theater is inside the mall on the top floor.

Real quick, now that you know a place and direction prepositions definition, check this out. It explains the different types of connecting words and gives more background information on how to use them. Once you’re done, let’s recap time, place, and location words.

Essentially these words explain when and where something or someone is. They can also detail the specific location of something in comparison to something else.

Although these words are usually only a few letters long, they’re incredibly important for forming sentences. Without them, it’s impossible to share important information about nouns, pronouns, and gerunds with others. By using these words correctly, you’re able to help people understand the relationship between people, places, and things.

What is a Subordinate Conjunction Preposition Definition?

Subordinate conjunctions are a type of word that helps people transition from one sentence to the next. There are some conjunctions which are also connecting words. However, not all connection words are subordinate conjunctions; only the words as, after, before, since, and until. These words precede a subject and verb to create a subordinate conjunction clause. Examples include:

  • As Peter waved his friends goodbye
  • Until you finish your homework
  • Before you watch television upstairs
  • After you hop in the shower
  • Since you never finalized the contract

Now you know some new information about connecting words and phrases. Are there any new uses that you didn’t know about?