IELTS Basic Grammar - Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases

Prepositions are words that show a connection between other words. Most prepositions are little words like at, in and on. Prepositional phrases are groups of words, such as out of and on top of.

Preposition or Adverb?
Some words can be used either as prepositions or as adverbs. If the word is followed by a noun or a pronoun, it is a preposition.

Look at these pairs of examples. In each of the sentences marked preposition, there is a noun or pronoun after the preposition. This noun or pronoun is called the object of the preposition.

She put her hand inside (preposition) my bag (noun).
It was raining, so they decided to stay inside (adverb).

Water was running down (preposition) the walls (noun).
He tripped over his shoelaces and fell down (adverb).

Prepositions of Place
Some prepositions show where something happens. They are called prepositions of place.
" Sally was sitting under a tree."
" There’s a wooden floor underneath the carpet."

Prepositions of Time
Some prepositions show when something happens. They are called prepositions of time.
" School starts at nine o’clock."
" I brush my teeth in the morning and at night. "

Prepositions of Direction
Some prepositions show where something is going. They are called prepositions of direction.
" The boys chased after each other."
" The football rolled down the hill. "

Prepositions with Special Uses
Many prepositions are used in other ways. Here are some of them.

of
" I bought a bag of rice and a quart of milk."
" Would you like a glass of orange juice?"
" Kathleen is a member of the chess club."
" I need three pieces of paper."

for
" I made this bookmark for Mom."
" Is there room for me on this seat?"
" I’d like a new computer for Christmas."
" We’re going downtown for a meeting."
" What’s this bag for?"

with
" He pounds nails in with a hammer."
" Mix the flour with water."
" She painted the picture with her new paints."
" Would you like to come with us to the arcade?"

except and instead of
" I like all kinds of food except pasta."
" Everyone likes chocolate except Tom."
" We go to school every day except Saturday and Sunday."
" You should eat fruit instead of candy."

like, as and than
" Kathleen looks like her dad."
" Andrew smiles like his mother."
" Peter sings like a professional singer."
" Are these shoes the same as those?"
" Sue is nearly as tall as the teacher."
" My backpack is bigger than John’s."
" Dad is taller than all of us."

Prepositions with Adjectives, Verbs or Nouns
Prepositions are used with some adjectives. The adjectives in these examples are printed in colour.

" Dad was angry with us."
" We were afraid of the big dog."
" She’s not very interested in sports. "

Prepositions are used with some verbs. The verbs in these examples are printed in colour.
" I am looking for my pencil. Have you seen it?"
" Can you think of another word for ‘pleased’?"

Prepositions are used with some nouns. The nouns in these examples are printed in colour.
" What’s the answer to this question?"
" Is there a reason for this delay?"
" What’s the matter with you? "

 

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