What Are Prepositions?

Prepositions are the “nails” or “glue” that hold sentences together. They show relationships:


Your dinner is on the stove.                                        dinner   –        stove

The fox ran between the dogs.                                    fox         –         dogs

The most common prepositions are—







to (if it is not followed by a verb)


Prepositions also can be longer words, such as between and underneath, and they can be more than one word:

Wilfred, along with his dogs, went missing for three days.

Robert, in addition to half the town, was out looking for him.

Prepositions and Two-Word Verbs

In the previous lesson, you found that if you have a little word and you cannot turn around a sentence, then the little word is part of a two-word verb. 

Santa wrinkled up his nose

Up his nose, Santa wrinkled.

(Up is half of a two-word verb in this sentence.)

However, if you can turn around the sentence, then the word is not a two-word verb. It is a preposition.

Santa went up the chimney.

Up the chimney, Santa went.

(Up is not half of a two-word verb in this sentence. Here, it is a preposition.)

Preposition Test

The test for prepositions is

­(blank) that

If the word fits in the blank, and you have not already identified it, then it is a preposition. For example:

                        in that              on that             of that              by that

                        before that       near that          during that      according to that

A List of Prepositions

The following is an incomplete list of prepositions.  You do not need to memorize them.  It is here in case you wish to refer to them.

Some of the prepositions can be verbs

Small Group Activity

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

Identify the prepositions in the following sentences.  The number is in parenthesis.

      1. After school, Wendy decided to play soccer with her friends. (2)
      2. Regarding our music teacher, I’m afraid she is having a terrible time trying to keep everyone in tune. (2)
      3. Juniper drove all the way to the new store in Stockdale to buy a dress for the prom. (3)
      4. Greta wanted pink walls in the kitchen and green walls in the bedroom. (2)
      5. On Tuesday, we will have an assembly for the vets returning from the war. (3)
      6. Jean Valjean was thrown into prison for twenty years for stealing a loaf of bread. (4)
      7. Next year we will vacation in California. (1)
      8. Just between you and me, his speech is boring me to tears. (2)
      9. The Shoshone finally arrived at their winter camp. (1)
      10. We were happy to invite Max to breakfast at the restaurant in Tupelo. (3)

Individual or Small Group Activity

Complete the exercise:   France