English is a fascinatingly dynamic language, thanks in part to its extremely rich diversity of prepositions.
Really, even if you find it preposterous that prepositions would have such a profound impact on the English language, these small-yet-mighty words and phrases play an incredibly important role in everyday conversations. Think of them as the little nuts and bolts that help us string sentences together — keeping our conversations running smoothly and efficiently.
If they perform a crucial job for the language, they also perform a thankless one. That’s why you may be wondering what the English prepositions are, even if you’re a native English speaker. These words and phrases are so small that they’re easy to overlook, making it difficult for us to even realize when we’re using them.
However, they’re definitely easy to notice when someone uses the wrong preposition. For example, alarms would probably go off in your head if someone said, “I’ll see you at Monday.” You can probably tell that the preposition at is being used incorrectly here, but you might not know exactly why it’s not right. You just know it sounds off. This is what makes them so tricky.
In fact, prepositions are notoriously challenging to master, both for native and non-native speakers alike. Even advanced English speakers can toil to use the right prepositions at the right time, which is why we’ve compiled this guide with over 250 of them to help you use any preposition you’d like with ease and conviction.
With hundreds of prepositions to cover, let’s jump right into the definition of prepositions in English!
What are prepositions in grammar?
A preposition is a word or phrase that connects a noun or pronoun to the rest of the sentence. As implied by the pre in prepositions, they go before the noun they’re connecting. They can help us quickly explain how a noun is related to other people, objects, or actions in the sentence.
Most prepositions are single words. Also known as simple prepositions, some of the most common are:
In addition to simple prepositions, English also allows the use of complex prepositions. These are made up of two to four words and perform the same job as simple prepositions: explain the relationship between the noun and the rest of the sentence. Some of the most common complex prepositions in English are:
- Away from
- In addition to
- On top of
- Instead of
- Up to
The most common English prepositions
Before we dive into the most complete list of prepositions, we should spend some time reviewing the most common ones. As you’ll see later on, English is a very generous language when it comes to using words as prepositions, resulting in several hundreds of preposition words and prepositional phrases that are used regularly. Yes, that’s several hundred excluding archaic prepositions!
Don’t worry, though, as most everyday conversations concentrate on a few dozen prepositions. With that in mind, we’ll cover some of the most common English prepositions in depth so you’re ready to approach everyday conversations with confidence. Afterward, we’ll provide you with the most complete list of prepositions you’ll ever find, so you can reference it in the future to find the best preposition for any situation.
Prepositions of place
A preposition of place indicates where something or someone is located. When placed before the noun or pronoun, they help us be specific about where a certain object or person is in relation to that noun. Without prepositions, we wouldn’t be able to tell if something is on the table, under the table, next to the table, near the table, etc. Here are some examples of prepositions of place:
|In||Inside or encapsulated by||The shoes are in the box.|
|At||Used to indicate a particular point or location||I will meet you at the airport.|
|On||Indicates location on the surface of something||I left your backpack on the chair.|
|Inside||Within something else||Can you pass me the box that’s inside the bag?|
|Over||Above or beyond something||The house is just over the hill.|
|Above||Higher than something else||The picture frame is on the shelf above the couch.|
|Below||Lower than something else||The sun has officially set — it’s finally below the horizon!|
|Beneath||Lower than something else||The assistant general manager position is just beneath the regional manager!|
|Under||Below something else||Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Boulevard?|
|Underneath||Below something else||Our garage is underneath our house.|
|By||Close to or near something||Did you go to the cupcake shop by the park?|
|Near||Close by||I went to the pizza place near campus.|
|Next to||Beside||What happened to the bike that was next to our car?|
|Between||In the middle of two things||I don’t want to sit between two strangers on the plane!|
|Among||Within a group||There is an impostor among us.|
|Opposite||Directly across||Jenny’s house is opposite a massive mall.|
Prepositions of time
Prepositions of time are used to help us tell when something is happening, for how long it’s happening, and more. If you notice that some of the prepositions here look strikingly similar to the prepositions of place, that’s because prepositions can serve multiple purposes at the same time!
|In||Used for months, years, centuries, and long periods of time.||I’ll see you in twenty minutes!|
|At||Used for precise times.||We’re meeting at eight o’clock, right?|
|On||Used for days and dates.||My dad arrives on Sunday, but I’ll be there by Friday.|
|Since||Used to describe the last time something happened.||I haven’t seen Paula since ninth grade!|
|For||Used when talking about how long an action was happening.||After our month-long trip, I had to do laundry for hours!|
|By||Used when talking about a deadline or a point in time by which another action will have already happened.||I have to submit my essay by midnight.|
|During||Used to denote continuity during a period of time.||She didn’t speak a word during the entire show.|
|From… to||Used to express time periods.||I worked from sunrise to sundown yesterday.|
|From… until||Used to express time periods.||I’ll be in Lisbon from May until July.|
|Within||Used to express time periods, taking the present as the initial period.||If I don’t find some coffee within five minutes, I’m going back to sleep.|
Prepositions of direction
Prepositions of direction help us define where a noun is going. Like prepositions of place, they help us relate a noun to another noun. However, these prepositions also include an aspect of motion, as they let us know where the noun is headed, where it’s coming from, etc.
|To||Heading from the first noun to the second noun||That plane is going to Paris.|
|Toward||Heading from the first noun to the second noun||Watch out, there’s a car coming toward us.|
|On||Describes how the subject is moving||He’s coming on a train.|
|From||Describes the origin or previous location of the subject||She said she was coming home from work an hour ago.|
|Into||Describes movement from outside the noun to inside the noun||She was placed into an advanced class.|
|Against||Describes||Whose bike is that leaning up against the wall?|
|Off||Away from||They drove off into the horizon together.|
The complete English prepositions list
Okay, now that you’re familiar with the different types of prepositions, let’s get into our full list of 257 prepositions! Don’t rush into memorizing all of them, though. Instead, bookmark this page so you can reference this table next time you can’t seem to find the right preposition.
|à la||ah lah||ə ˈlɑ|
|according to||ah-core-deeng too||əˈkɔrdɪŋ tu|
|across from||ah-cross from||əˈkɹɔs ˈfɹʌm|
|ahead of||ah-hed of||əˈhɛd əv|
|along with||ah-long weeth||əˈlɔŋ ˈwɪθ|
|apart from||ah-part from||əˈpɑrt ˈfɹʌm|
|as for||as for||əz ˈfɔr|
|as from||as from||əz ˈfɹʌm|
|as of||as of||əz əv|
|as per||as pur||əz ˈpɝ|
|as regards||as ruh-gards||əz ɹɪˈɡɑrdz|
|as to||as too||əz tu|
|as well as||as well as||əz ˈwɛl əz|
|aside from||ah-said rom||əˈsaɪd ˈfɹʌm|
|away from||ah-way from||əˈweɪ ˈfɹʌm|
|back to||back too||ˈbæk tu|
|because of||bee-cos-of||bɪˈkɔz əv|
|but for||buht for||ˈbʌt ˈfɔr|
|by means of||bye meens of||ˈbaɪ ˈminz əv|
|close to||close too||ˈkloʊz tu|
|contrary to||con-trah-ree-too||ˈkɑnˌtɹɛri tu|
|counter to||coun-tehr-too||ˈkaʊntɚ tu|
|depending on||deh-pehn-deeng ohn||dɪˈpɛndɪŋ ˈɔn|
|due to||doo too||ˈdu tu|
|except for||ecks-ehpt for||ɪkˈsɛpt ˈfɔr|
|forward of||for-ward of||ˈfɔrwɚd əv|
|further to||foor-ther too||ˈfɝðɚ tu|
|in addition to||een ah-dee-tee-ohn too||ˈɪn əˈdɪʃən tu|
|in between||een bee-tween||ˈɪn bɪˈtwin|
|in case of||een case of||ˈɪn ˈkeɪs əv|
|in face of||een face of||ˈɪn ˈfeɪs əv|
|in favor of||een fay-vor of||ˈɪn ˈfeɪvɚ əv|
|in front of||een front of||ˈɪn ˈfɹʌnt əv|
|in lieu of||een luh of||ˈɪn ˈlu əv|
|in spite of||een spait of||ˈɪn ˈspaɪt əv|
|in view of||een viu of||ˈɪn ˈvju əv|
|instead of||een-stehd of||ɪnˈstɛd əv|
|near to||neer too||ˈnɪr tu|
|next to||next too||ˈnɛkst tu|
|on account of||on ah-caunt of||ˈɔn əˈkaʊnt əv|
|on behalf of||on bee-half of||ˈɔn bɪˈhæf əv|
|on board||on boord||ˈɔn ˈbɔrd|
|on to||on too||ˈɔn tu|
|on top of||on top of||ˈɔn ˈtɑp əv|
|opposite of||oh-poh-seet of||ˈɑpəzət əv|
|opposite to||oh-poh-seet too||ˈɑpəzət tu|
|other than||oh-ther than||ˈʌðɚ ˈðæn|
|out from||aut from||ˈaʊt ˈfɹʌm|
|out of||aut of||ˈaʊt əv|
|outside of||aut-said of||ˌaʊtˈsaɪd əv|
|owing to||ow-eeng-too||ˈoʊɪŋ tu|
|pertaining to||pur-tay-neeng too||pɚˈteɪnɪŋ tu|
|prior to||pry-or too||ˈpɹaɪɚ tu|
|regardless of||reh-gard-less||ɹɪˈɡɑrdləs əv|
|round about||raund ah-baut||ˈɹaʊnd əˈbaʊt|
|save for||sav for||ˈseɪv ˈfɔr|
|thanks to||thanks too||ˈθæŋks tu|
|together with||too-geh-ther weeth||təˈɡɛðɚ ˈwɪθ|
|up against||up ah-gehnst||ˈʌp əˈɡɛnst|
|up to||up too||ˈʌp tu|
|up until||up uhn-teel||ˈʌp ənˈtɪl|
|with reference to||weeth reh-feh-rehns too||ˈwɪθ ˈɹɛfɹəns tu|
|with regard to||weeth ree-gard too||ˈwɪθ ɹɪˈɡɑrd tu|
Postpositions in English
Unlike other languages like French and Spanish, English uses postpositions as well as prepositions. These serve very similar purposes to prepositions, except that they are placed after the noun or pronoun, hence the post in postposition.
|Ago||Helps establish the amount of time that has passed since the action took place.||I met her ten years ago.|
|Apart||To separate two nouns.||They’re best friends, they can never be apart.|
|Aside||To put the noun out of the way or out of focus.||All jokes aside, you should really consider the offer.|
|Away||Helps establish the distance between two nouns.||How can I be happy when my dog is one thousand miles away from me?|
|Notwithstanding||Used to establish that something happened despite another event happening as well.||The wedding is going to carry on as usual, storm notwithstanding.|
|On||When used as a postposition, it indicates the amount of time or distance that has already passed.||Five years on, she’s still keen on the keto diet.|
|Over||When used as a postposition, this word means “all around.”||This movie went #1 the world over.|
|Short||Missing or lacking.||I think I might be a few dollars short.|
|Through||Indicating that something persisted during a specific time period.||She had a bad stomachache the whole week through.|
English prepositions song
Using music to learn a new language is one of the most popular techniques all over the world, especially for kids. If you’re looking for a catchy prepositions song that will have your children or young students practicing their grammar while having fun, check out this awesome song!
In Front Of, Behind, Between | Prepositions Song for Kids
If you prefer something more suitable for adults and children alike, then check out the following song by The Bazillions. Its relaxing aura will be an excellent companion on your drive to work, as you sip your tea on a rainy afternoon, or even while doing dishes — all while practicing your English prepositions!
"Preposition" by The Bazillions
Enjoy learning the English prepositions
If you took one look at our list of 257 prepositions and tried to run for the hills — don’t panic too quickly! While there are several hundred prepositions in the English language, only a few dozen are used in everyday conversations. Focus on learning the prepositions we covered at the beginning of this article first, and you’ll be able to expertly navigate most conversations with no effort.
And if you really want to impress your peers, take your time making yourself comfortable with our ultimate table of English prepositions. There’s no need to rush here, but you might be able to sprinkle some fancy prepositions in your next college paper or business email to stand out!
And if you want to go the extra mile, why not review some of our other English articles? We can help you master 277 useful English abbreviations, the definite and indefinite articles, 1000 English adjectives, and more!