What is a Preposition | Definition and Examples

Preposition| Definition and Examples

Throw the ball at Imran. (at= to hit him))

• Throw the ball to Imran. (at = so that he can catch it)

The knowledge of preposition is paramount for learning, deeply and correctly English. Besides much of the beauty of the English language is there because of prepositions. Hence, practicing the correct usage of prepositions in a rewarding task in itself, as it is not only instructive but also interesting. So let us learn Prepositions:

Definition:-Literary, the word Preposition means the word “that is placed before”. Grammatically, a Preposition is a word used to show the relation between a noun or pronoun, called its object, and some other words in the sentence. Preposition can also be defined as a word used to show the relation in which one thing stands to other thing.

Let’s ponder over the following sentences:

i. There is a cat in the house.

ii. Fida is falling off the horse.

iii. Jameela is fond of coffee.

iv. His pen is on the table.

From the above three sentences, it will be noticed that;

  • In sentence (i) the word ‘in’ shows the relation between two nouns – the house and the cat.
  • In sentence (ii), the word off shows the relation between the action word (verb), falling and the noun, horse.
  • In sentence (iii), the word of shows the relation between the adjective ‘fond’ and the noun ‘coffee’.
  • In sentence (iv), the preposition on shows the relation (of place) in which his pen stands to the table.

Remember:-A Preposition is normally placed before its object, but in certain cases it necessarily follows ; as:

i. Where are you going to?

ii. Whom do you take me for?

iii. What are you looking at?

iv. Which of these chairs did you sit on?

Note:-The Preposition is placed at the end when the object is an interrogative pronoun as in the above sentences. Also, when the object is relative pronoun (that, who etc) or when the relative pronoun is understood, the Preposition must come in the last; as:

i. This is the school that I once learnt in.

ii. Here is the pen that you demanded for.

iii. Here is the girl (that) I spoke of (that= understand)

iv. This is the man (whom) I was speaking of. (Whom= understand).

Note:-A Preposition used in this way is called detached Preposition.

Facts to remember:-The noun or pronoun that is used with a Preposition is called its object. It is in the objective case and is said to be governed by the Preposition; as:

i. There is parrot on the tree branch.

In this case the noun ‘tree branch’ is in the objective case, governed by the preposition on.

ii. At certain occasions a preposition can have two or more objects ; as

• Malik Manzoor was a citizen of credit and renown.

• He throws the pebbles at Rahim and Karim.

• He is going to Iran and Iraq.

• The road runs over hill and plain.


From the above all discussion, it can be observed that a preposition must have an object. For example:

i. Sarah is getting out of —-

ii. The letter is from —-

iii. The bank is next to —-

iv. Nifat is lying on —-

v. Simran is in —-

The sentences do not give a complete sense. They are lacking something and that is objects. The sentences can give us complete senses if we write them along with their objects; as:

i. Sarah is getting out of taxi.

ii. The letter is from Afzal.

iii. The bank is next to the gift shop.

iv. Nifat is lying on the grass reading book.

v. Simran is in her room.

Next: To continue reading about prepositions continue reading.

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