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Prepositions

ALT IMG PREPOSITIONS These are words we use before a noun or pronoun to show where, how, who, when etc., The choice of which preposition is something you learn from experience and practice. The rule for prepositions are not clear and fixed and often there is a choice. We should learn some common patterns for prepositions and practice them. Read these word pairs regularly.

prepositions are short word like 'to', 'in', 'on' and 'at'.
How many prepositions can you see in this text?.

In the year 2000 at Christmas we had a long holiday because Christmas was on Sunday. The roads were busy and we had to wait in a queue. We drove to the end of the street and parked on the side of the road by the corner. We went into a pub for our Christmas dinner. There was lots of food on the table. We knew that in a few minutes time we would sit on a chair and start eating.

prepositions have meaning

prepositions are very important for the meaning of sentences. phrasal verbs depend on prepositions for their meaning. So "Call off" and "call on" have different meanings. Check your knowledge of phrasal verbs

There are about 150 prepositions in English. Yet this is a very small number when you think of the thousands of other words (nouns, verbs etc). prepositions are important words. We use individual prepositions more frequently than other individual words. In fact, the prepositions of, to and in are among the ten most frequent words in English. Many of these prepositions have more than one meaning. Check with a good dictionary for the meanings of these prepositions.

Collect together some sentences from books. Keep sentences together that have the same preposition. Here are examples of "in" taken from different texts in an intermediate coursebook:

  1. No one is above the law.
  2. From time to time I like to go cycle to work.
  3. For sure, you are right
  4. What are we here for
  5. "This is the place for trainers, and not precisely the trainers you run in."
  6. "Several markets all in the same place."
  7. "use of colour yellow in newspapers was an amazing innovation."
  8. "Many people knew the X-men from a popular cartoon series in the 1990s."
  9. "Hugh Jackman is brilliant in the role of Wolverine."
  10. "The most important effects will be in the field of medicine."

Look at your sentences and try to see how the prepositions were used.

Answer the questions. Write a time, day, month or year. use the correct preposition.
  1. When do you leave for work?
  2. When do you finish work?
  3. What days don't you go to work?
  4. When do you get paid?
  5. When do you have your holidays?
  6. When did you last take a day off?
  7. When do you have to do your taxes?
  8. When did you start working at the place you are now?
  9. When is the busiest time of year for you at work?
  10. When is the slowest time of year for you at work?

1 Ten Missing Prepositions

  1. We are good ___ dancing.
  2. ___ the window.
  3. Look ___ that.
  4. The meeting starts ___ two thirty.
  5. He likes driving ___ night.
  6. I'll go shopping ___ lunchtime.
  7. The pool is closed ___ winter.
  8. There's a man ___ the door.
  9. Turn right ___ the traffic lights.
  10. Thumb ___ a book.
Show

2 Ten Missing Prepositions

  1. ___ the television
  2. We left ___ midnight.
  3. Are you leaving ___ the weekend?
  4. He's unavailable ___ present.
  5. We arrived ___ the same time.
  6. Write the number down ___ a piece of paper.
  7. The last train leaves ___ 10:30.
  8. I had a cup of coffee ___ Helen's (house/flat).
  9. Angie's still ___ home.
  10. I saw her standing ___ the bus stop.
Show

3 Ten Missing Prepositions

  1. I'll meet you ___ reception.
  2. She kept the horse ___ a nearby farm.
  3. It will be taken ___ consideration.
  4. The index is ___ the back of the book.
  5. Write your name ___ the top of each page.
  6. The toy department is ___ the first floor.
  7. Jane's ___ the dentist/hairdresser.
  8. Shall I meet you ___ the station?
  9. Concentrate ___ it.
  10. They live ___ 70, Duncombe place.
Show

4 Ten Missing Prepositions

  1. I studied German ___ college/school/university.
  2. We bought some bread ___ the supermarket.
  3. I met her ___ last year's conference.
  4. She wasn't ___ Simon's party.
  5. She placed her hand ___ my shoulder.
  6. ___ ever and ever
  7. ___ all time.
  8. She usually works ___ Mondays.
  9. Travel ___ town
  10. ___ the year 2002 ___ a minute ___ you/me/them/us
Show
  1. He had a large spot ___ his nose. ___ future (?) ___ an hour or two
  2. The interview is ___ 29th April.
  3. ___ the future (?)
  4. I was born ___ 1965.
  5. We're going to visit them ___ May.
  6. She works somewhere ___ the toy department.
  7. He was famous ___ the 1980's.
  8. The play is set ___ the Middle Ages. They've done work for me ___ the past. He's leaving ___ the morning.
  9. She usually has a sleep ___ the afternoon(s). ___ Wednesday
  10. I was ___ the impression that ... .
  11. You can travel there and back ___ a day.
  12. I tried to work ___ the evening.
  13. They managed to finish the job ___ two weeks.
  14. She'll be ready ___ a few minutes. I'll see you ___ Friday. Are you going home ___ Christmas/Easter?
  15. He's gone away but he'll be back ___ a couple of days. Driving ___ France is very straightforward. Orgiva is a very small village ___ the mountains.
  16. Do you like living ___ Nottingham? Could you sit down ___ the waiting room please? Look ___ my emails.
  17. I've left my bag ___ the office. There's a wedding ___ the church this afternoon. Lots of people were swimming ___the lake
  18. There's fresh milk ___ the fridge. You've got a dirty mark ___ your jumper. The money is ___ the top drawer of my desk.
  19. Do you take milk ___ your coffee? I can taste garlic ___ this sauce. I think I've got a tissue ___ my pocket.
  20. They were having a picnic ___ the park.
  21. There's a lot of fat ___ cheese and butter.
  22. She was born ___ Valentine's day.
  23. He was born ___ February 14th 1995.
  24. We're going to the theatre ___ Wednesday evening.
  25. We move house ___ Christmas Eve.
  26. I have an exam ___ my birthday.
  27. The letter is ___ my desk.
  28. The bank is ___ the corner of King's Street.
  29. There was a beautiful painting ___ the wall.
  30. Koblenz is ___ the Rhine.
  31. Bournemouth is ___ the south coast.
  32. It's the second turning ___ the left.
  33. It's ___ consideration. I travelled from Paris to London ___ the Channel tunnel.
  34. I like to read the children a story ___ bedtime.
  35. She's working ___ the moment.
  36. I finish the course ___ the end of April.
  37. We were amused ___ the clowns.
  38. We were annoyed ___ the elephants.
  39. We were confused ___ the noise.
  40. We were disappointed ___ the motorcycle daredevils.
  41. We were disappointed ___ their performance.
  42. We were embarrassed ___ my brother.
  43. We were exhausted ___ all the excitement.
  44. We were excited ___ the lion-tamer.
  45. We were excited ___ the high-wire act, too.
  46. We were frightened ___ the lions. We were introduced ___ the ringmaster. We were interested ___ the tent.
  47. We were irritated ___ the heat.
  48. We were opposed ___ leaving early.
  49. We were satisfied ___ the circus.
  50. We were shocked ___ the level of noise in the room.
  51. We were surprised ___ the fans' response.
  52. We were surprised ___ their indifference.
  53. We were tired ___ all the excuses.
  54. We were worried ___ the rising costs.
Show
3 Depend prepositions

Replace the incorrect prepositions in the following sentences with the correct ones.
  1. You can reduce your vulnerability for stress by taking a nap in the afternoon.
  2. I play tennis - but just in fun. I'm not very good at it.
  3. I've no idea why Tony is so angry. He never confides with me.
  4. Jane's out in the garden mulling through a problem to do with work.
  5. There's no need to exercise at the point of exhaustion.
  6. At weekends, I like to immerse myself with the peace and quiet of the countryside.
  7. Bob's finding it hard to focus his mind in his studies at the moment.
  8. Dentists fall on the category of high-stress occupations.
  9. One of the greatest causes of stress at the workplace is the feeling of being undervalued.
  10. Moving house often has a negative effect for people's mental health.
Complete the following sentences with the correct preposition.
  1. All new models have been fitted ___ a safety lock.
  2. You look really scruffy. Can't you tuck your shirt ___ your trousers at least?
  3. The main part of the house is very old. It dates ___ more than 400 years.
  4. The sudden movement of the train threw me ___ balance and I fell head-first down he steps.
  5. Erica is an excellent colleague. She goes ___ her job calmly and efficiently.
  6. The school ran ___ financial trouble when 80% of the staff went on strike.
  7. As soon as the president stepped out of the car, guards moved ___ action to hold back the crowds.
  8. The price of shares in the company went up ___ over 50% when they announced the discovery of the new oilfield.
  9. We've decided to switch ___ electricity ___ solar power in an attempt to be more eco-friendly.
  10. The over-use of fertilisers and pesticides is one of the greatest threats ___ wildlife today.
There are 7 examples of the word AT that are missing from this text. Can you put them back in the correct places? Write the text out on paper then click


He was work, sitting quietly his desk. She's not here, he thought, what on earth was she playing his suggestion she had promised to visit him the end of the day, when everyone had left. But she still hadn't come. " ____ six o'clock I'm leaving" he thought. ten past seven he was still there.

prepositions on Holiday

____ the year 2000 ____ Christmas we had a long holiday because Christmas was ____ Sunday. The roads were busy and we had to wait ____ a queue. We drove ____ the end of the street and parked ____ the side ____ the road ____ the corner. We went ____ a pub ____ our Christmas dinner. There was lots of food ____ the table. We knew that ____ a few minutes time we would sit ____ a chair and start eating.

Find the missing preposition

He did that __ Monday. I was born __ 1956 They crossed ___ the bridge to get to the other side of the river Who is that person standing __ the corner of the room? Who is that man standing __ the corner of the street Manchester united are playing ____ Barcelona. We all looked in our pockets, but we didn't have a penny _____ us ____ ever and ever. always Look __ the sky. please turn round and face ____ me. I'd like to know all _____ English prepositions Not (of English prepositions , as then an article would be needed. I'd like to know all of the English prepositions) You should not rest your elbows ____ the table while eating. It's not considered to be polite. Do you believe ___ ghosts? Do ghosts really exist? I put all my money __ that horse, but it lost the race Gambling can lose you a lot of money I don't understand French and so I haven't got a clue ___ anything she is saying. I can't understand anything atall This place is really busy today, quite a hive __ activity. busy as a bee We need to shift __ a gear and get production to full capacity We are not doing too badly, but there's a lot of room ___ improvement Call __ the dogs! I'm coming down from the tree. I surrender. procedures are __ place to prevent this kind of accident from recurring ____ your help, I'll be totally unable to complete this exercise The doctor gave me a clean bill __ health He said that I'm fine and have no particular health problems When I was young my family travelled _____ the world. Show

Preposition patterns in English word paris

Words are often found paired with prepositions. For example Intransitive verb forms

Some words often make a word pair with a preposition. Learn these familiar word pairs. Try to write sentences using these word pairs.

Without a preposition

  1. Today, tomorrow and yesterday (Not on today )
  2. contact (someone)
  3. visit (somewhere/somebody)
  4. inform (someone)

Some notes and exceptions

In / at / on the corner

We say 'in the corner of a room', but 'at the corner (or 'on the corner') of a street'

In / at / on the front

  1. We say 'in the front / in the back' of a car
  2. We say 'at the front / at the back' of buildings / groups of people
  3. We say 'on the front / on the back' of a piece of paper

IN or AT or ON

We can think of at as one-dimensional, referring to a specific place or position in space. On is two dimensional, referring to the position of something in relation to a surface. In is by contrast three-dimensional, referring to the position of something in relation to the things that surround it. Thinking of the prepositions in these terms helps us explain certain facts. For instance, in is generally used for larger places and at for smaller, more specific places, so we say:

  1. We arrived in Inverness two hours ago.
    But:
  2. We arrived at the campsite two hours ago.

However, if we think of a city or larger place as a specific point in space, we can use at, e.g.:
The train stops at Birmingham and Bristol.
Or if we think of a smaller place as three dimensional, we can use in, e.g.:
We've lived in this little village for many years.

  1. at - is used for fixed points in time (Eg: clock times) and fixed positions.
  2. on - is used to describe a position in a line, list or sequence. So it is used for days, dates (The calendar is a list) and surfaces or lines.
  3. in - is used to describe something in relation to the things around it in time or space. in is used for periods of time and three dimensional spaces or containers.
Gap fill prepositions
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