Prepositions of Movement

Prepositions that are used for describing the movement to or from a place are called prepositions of movement and direction. The preposition word such as “to, into, and onto” act the same way as “in, at, and on” in the case of prepositions of place and time. Prepositions of movement or direction indicate movement from one place to other. These types of prepositions are used with verbs of motions and are placed after the verb.

Commonly used Prepositions of Movement & Directions:


The most commonly used preposition movement and direction is “to.” To represents orientation toward a particular thing or a goal.  The goal may be physical movement to a something such as going (to a party, to the class, to a store, etc.) For example, She ran to her class because she was late.

“To”- It is a Preposition word that is used for describing an action or a movement in the direction of a particular place, thing, or person.

Use: We use “to” to movement in a particular direction.


  • I am going to school by car.
  • Don’t walk to your work daily.
  • They were invited to the party.
  • Jessica flew to the USA for an urgent meeting.

If the movement or direction of something is not an actual place but a thought or an action then to is placed with another verb in the infinitive form. This type of sentences describes purpose such as words like “to, in order to.”  She was cooking early in order to avoid working till late in the kitchen. Moreover, it is possible to form a single sentence with both the different meanings of the preposition “to.”

For example, Susan and Jane went to the library to study for the forthcoming semester exams. (To the library- Physical destination) (Purpose- in order to study for the upcoming exams)

Read Also: Prepositions of Time

Uses of “to”

“To” can be used just as simple prepositions with “verbs of communication” such as speak, listen, talk. It can also be used as an ordinary preposition for appealing such as pleading.

  • John began to listen to the lecture studiously.
  • I started to talk to her, but her phone rang.

“To” can be used with verbs of movement such as transfer, go, walk, drive, fly, travel, walk, swim, etc. All these verbs of movement can be used to as well as with towards except for the verb transfer. For example:

  • I will drive to the airport.

To indicates movement towards a specific point and towards indicating movement in a common direction without any particular direction or specific point.

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For example:

  • I have to go to the school.
  • Let’s walk towards the beach.

To can also be used to form an infinitive like to walk, to eat, to think, to plan, etc. In this case “to” describes willingness, purpose, desire, intent, obligation, etc.

  • She plans to clean her room on Saturday. (She intends to clean her room.)
  • Ana had to take over the business responsibilities in the absence of her father. (Ana is obligated)

Other than the preposition “to”, there are two more prepositions formed by adding “to.” They are:

On + to (onto) – describes movement towards the top of a surface.

In + to (into)- describes movement in the interior of a certain place or interior of something.

Prepositions “On” and “in” is the also used in reference to “Prepositions of movement and direction” and in some cases, they can replace the prepositions “onto” and “into” but they cannot be applied to every instance. For example:

  • Annie climbed on the tree.
  • Annie climbed onto the tree.

“Onto” and “Into” are compound prepositions whereas on and in are simple prepositions. The difference between the compound and simple prepositions are that a compound preposition describes the completion of a certain action whereas a simple preposition describes the position of a subject because of the consequences of a certain action.

  • She fell onto the ground. (Action of falling)
  • She is on the ground. (Position of her)
  • Don’t jump into the fight. (Action of fighting)
  • He is in the fight. (Position of him)


Into- This Preposition of Movement and direction shows the completion of a particular action. It also describes the movement to a certain place, towards or inside a particular place, to enter, in the direction of a particular place.

  • Put the dishes into the sink.
  • Put your clothes into the washing machine.
  • Keep your clothes into the wardrobe.

However, “Into” can be interchanged with “in” in the case of verbs expressing motion. The exception to the rules is: when the last word in the sentence is the preposition when the preposition is present in front of an adverbial.

  • He went into the museum
  • He went in
  • Get into the car.
  • Get in.

“In” and “Into” can also be placed with the verb move which means “approaching.”

  • The police moved in to take over the situation.
  • The firefighters moved in to the house to save the family members.

When into is placed with the move, it forms an ordinary preposition. The sentence describes the movement of something from one place to the other.

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  • Let’s move into the house soon.
  • I am moving my clothes to the other closet for more space.

Examples of into:

  • I went into the mall for some last minute shopping.
  • It is bad manners to go into a room without knocking at the door.

In some cases, certain verbs can be used for describing a movement in a particular direction or a place. It can also represent an idea of movement into a direction of something.

  • You should look straight into the eyes while interacting with someone.
  • The bike slipped and crashed into the tree.


It is used as a replacement of on in most cases.

  • They are getting onto the wrong bus.
  • Peter bounced on/onto the bed.
  • Annie climbed on/ onto the wall.
  • She jumped and landed on her feet.
  • Peter threw his clothes on/onto the bed.
  • The baby spilled all the water on his clothes.

Across/Over/Along- Prepositions such as across and over are used for describing movement from one side of a specific place to the other. These words are used in reference to the places that can be identified as two dimensions such as surfaces and lines.

  • It is dangerous to jump over the fence.
  • She sailed across the sea to reach to the island.
  • The chopper flew over the river.

Over- It is used to express a specific position. The preposition word is quiet similar to the preposition “above.” The preposition is used for describing an upward and forward direction across one place to the other, across something, or to a place higher in position.


  • The lion jumped over the deer.
  • The bridge is in damaged condition. Don’t cross over it.
  • Spread something over the table before eating.
  • My house is that way over the bridge.
  • Annie was looking into the mirror attached over the sink.


Across- It is used for describing a position that is stretching from a certain place to the other or from one side to the other.

For example

  • A barrier is being built across the road.
  • My friend is standing just across the street.
  • You have to boat across the river to reach to the sunset point.


Along- This preposition is used for describing movement following a line. It means movement from one point to the other, a point in the length of a particular place or movement in a line.


  • It is not safe to walk along the jungle path alone at any time of the day.
  • Why are you following your friend along the corridor?
  • I decorated the flowers along the railing for tonight’s party.
  • It is also used for indicating a particular position. It is also used for indicating the present a group of things in a line.
  • There is a restaurant along that straight lane. (Particular position)
  • There are a number of boats kept along the seashore. (Group of things in a line)
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AROUND – This preposition describes movement in a circle, in a curved path or along a curved path.


  • Peter and Henry drove around the area before it was time to go their house.
  • Don’t beat around the bush.


Down- This prepositions describes a movement from higher to lower position or movement towards the south.


  • The prices of mobile have gone down in the past few years.
  • Walk down the hill to go the main town.
  • Annie is walking down the stairs very gracefully.


Off- This preposition describes a movement away from something.


  • Susan got off the train before her actual stop.
  • Marianne was very angry on her friend so she marched off to her house.
  • They drove off to the farmhouse on the weekends.


Past- This preposition describes a movement at the far side of something or beyond something. It also explains movement “up to” or “going near.”


  • She walks past her friend without noticing her.
  • Go past the intersection and turn right towards the next street.


Through- It is used for describing movement from particular point to the other or from one end to the other. Usually, the preposition “through” is used for describing a movement within an enclosed space.


  • The engine passes through the tunnel every day.
  • Susan walks through the subway on her way to the office.


Toward- It is used for describing movement in the particular direction of something.


  • The mad man was walking towards the little girl with a knife.
  • Walk towards the park and then turn right on the third street.
  • She threw the ball towards her friend.
  • The little girl is pointing towards the yellow teddy bear.
  • The conversation stopped and everybody in the table turn toward me.
  • John was sitting towards the back side of the room.
  • Annie was standing with her back towards the wall.


“Up” describes movement from low to high, lower to the higher position, to the north, toward the up, ceiling, or high.


  • She got promotion moved up her rank within two years of her work.
  • It is difficult to ride a bike up the hill.
  • The price of the car has gone up in the past few years.
  • The hiking team climbed up the mountain yesterday.

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