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  • Forfatterens bildeRebekah Olson

What's a Preposition, Anyway?

A brief look into which words count as prepositions and when and how we use them

Ettlingen, Black Forest, April 2021

So what is a preposition?

A preposition is a word used to describe the spatial (location), temporal (time), or other (e.g., belonging) relationship between two nouns or pronouns

- Let's take a look at just some examples! -



  • with the purpose of

    • Anne likes to work out at the gym for exercise.

  • to belong to

    • This is equipment for the army.

  • to be used in connection with

    • This is a closet for dishes.

  • suiting the needs of

    • This is medicine for cancer patients.

  • in order to obtain

    • I work for money.


On / Off

  • so as to be supported by

    • Rita, please put your package on the table.

    • Rita, get your package off the table!

  • suspended from:

    • Herta has put her coat on the hook.

    • Herta has taken her coat off the hook.

  • so as to be attached

    • Paste the label on the package.

  • showing balance/deviation

    • We are on track to meet our goals.

    • We are off track and will not meet our goals.


Behind / In front of

  • at or toward the back of / at or toward the front of

    • Look behind the house, where the garden is.

    • Look in front of the house, where the street is.

  • not keeping up with, later than, after / ahead, before

    • Stefan is standing behind Hannelore in line, so he will get ice cream after her.

    • Hannelore is standing in front of Stefan in line, so she will get ice cream before him.


In / On / At

With time

  • for a general, longer period of time

    • Our class began in March, in the year 2021.

    • We are living in the 21st century.

  • for a shorter, more specific period of time and holidays

    • Helga goes shopping on Mondays.

    • Jen's mom always calls him on Christmas.

  • for the smallest and most specific times

    • Roswita will meet me at noon.

    • Class starts at 5:00 p.m.

(!) Take a look at this example that uses all three:

  • Our class, which started in March, is on Mondays at 5:00 p.m.

With place

  • for the largest or most general places

    • Our class takes place in Germany.

    • For the best food, Irmi prefers the restaurants in Ettlingen.

  • for more specific places

    • Doris lives on Main Street.

    • The bird is on the box.

  • for the most specific places.

    • I live at 561 Roosevelt Road.

    • The store is at the intersection of 2nd Street and 3rd Street.

(!) Take a look at this example that uses all three:

  • Gert lives on Franklin Street in Germany, specifically, at 421 Franklin Street.


That's enough grammar for now! Don't forget, there are always exceptions to these rules above. So don't ever be worried about making mistakes or, of course, asking questions, because here at Eco Ventures English, we LOVE questions!

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