Prepositional phrases


What are prepositions?

Let's start this lesson small.

Prepositions are small words that do a very important job.


There are over 100 prepositions in English. They include words like:

  • In
  • On
  • Under
  • By
  • To
  • After
  • Before
  • Since
  • Of
  • For

Here's a quick example:

But Mom was just bluffing about going to the nursing home.

The Long HaulJeff KinneySource

Prepositions usually appear as single words, but sometimes we combine them with other words to create groups that can function as a single preposition. Here are a few examples:

  • Ahead of
  • On top of
  • In front of
  • Instead of
  • Near to
  • In time for
  • As well as

For simplicity's sake, we're not going to distinguish between one-word and multi-word prepositions—we'll label them all prepositions.

Here's another example:

Lily, standing in front of her, fidgeted impatiently.

The GiverLois LowrySource

Can you guess what we use prepositions for?

We use them to communicate all sorts of important information:

  • Where things are
  • Where and when things happen
  • As well as howwhy, and in what way things happen

So the point is: prepositions are small, but super useful.

You probably use prepositions all the time without even thinking about it. Have a go now! Write any sentence you want using the preposition 'in front of'.

Your turn

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