One day at school, a friend in need approaches you. He’s about to take an exam in the next room but unfortunately, he forgot all his pens.
“May I borrow a pen?”
“Sure. It’s there,” you say as you left to eat a snack.
Later in the day, you find out that he couldn’t find your pen and borrow from another classmate instead. What a relief that he was able to take the exam. But if you had only used more prepositions, maybe he would’ve seen your pen instantly.
“Sure, it’s on the chair behind you.”
Prepositions and its many uses
What are prepositions? Why are they so useful?
Prepositions are words or phrases that show the relationship between words used in a sentence. They are small tools that can help make your simple sentences more descriptive, especially when used to direct people just like the example above.
There is a long list of prepositions one can choose from to improve a statement, but what are the differences between the uses of the following?
A preposition is classified based on its purpose. They exhibit direction, time, location, and spatial relationships when used properly.
- Prepositions of Direction
In the first of four example sentences above, the preposition “to” is used. Prepositions like on(to) and in(to) belong to the same group. They are used when there is a movement towards a particular goal, whether the goal is concrete or abstract
“They embarked on a road to peace.”
- Prepositions of Time
The second sample sentence makes use of the preposition ‘in’ which indicates when a noun or pronoun does a particular action. ‘On, in, and at’ can also function similarly, followed by a specific time of day, week, month, year, or season.
Prepositions such as ‘since, for, during, from/to, and within’ can indicate an extended period.
“The child takes swimming classes in the summer from June to August.”
- Prepositions of Location
The preposition ‘at’ as used in the third example indicates a location where the action was done. The prepositions of time enumerated above (on and in) can fall under this same group when followed by the name of a place or spot.
“They ate dinner in the big house.”
- Prepositions of Space
Prepositions of space are used to describe the position of a noun in relation to another. In the fourth sentence, ‘under’ is used to explain the spot taken by the dog, using the table for reference.
Above, beneath, beside, near, and below can serve the same purpose.
“The chandelier hangs above the carpet.”
Tricks to remember
Commonly used prepositions frequently pair up with verbs or adjectives, changing their meanings. Reading widely to get exposed to such use is highly recommended.
Examples:Contrary to a rule learned by many, sentences can end with prepositions.
“She bought the apartment I lived in.”
Another thing to remember is to limit the use of prepositions. Mastering them can guide you in creating more complete statements, but too much can cause wordiness and incomprehension.
As a test, try to spot how other prepositions were used in this article aside from the ones in the examples! You’ll be a master of prepositions in no time.