*An important note about the category Preposition
The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (2002) published some major changes to the category of Preposition. While at first look the recategorization of several adverbs and conjunctions as prespositions may upset what we thought we knew about prepositions, on closer look the recategorization makes a lot of sense. Linguistic research has yielded a more logical and concise description of English than traditional Latin-based analyses of the past.
See Connector Overview for full source citations.
Time (in, on, at)
Place (in, on, at)
Indirect object (to me)
Indirect object (for me)
Quiz 1: beginning – intermediate
Quiz 2: intermediate – advanced
Beginning–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers
Under the canyon floor is a stream of water.
Jack is in the middle. (location)
Jack climbed down. (location)
Jack explores with enthusiasm. (manner)
Jack gets up early in order to go climbing. (purpose)
In the morning is the best time to water plants.
Watering plants was a chore until recently. (Adv)
We water our plants before leaving. (Ger)
We will water them before we leave the house. (clause)
For now, they are fine.
Inside is a kitchen, bathroom and bed.
The table unfolds in the middle.
The bed is in the back of the trailer.
Bedding storage is overhead.
The mini-trailer can easily move from place to place.
She is at school. (location)
She is in school. (enrolled in)
Her father is working in the school.(within the space)
He's in hot water.
We have been coming to this beach for fifteen years.
We have been coming to this beach since July, 1995.
We are on vacation during July.
We went to the beach several times in our stay.
They are on vacation in July.
*They stayed there during July, not during May.
Michael Phelps made sports history by winning eight gold medals ___ the 2008 Olympics ___ Beijing, China.
You can open it by using a knife.
You can cut the string with a knife.
What's it for? for tying boxes.
Why do you use it? to tie boxes.
How do you close boxes? with string / by using string.
Jason is anxious about his future.
He would like to be independent of his parents.
He is good at many things.
He is optimistic about his future.
The house next door belongs to my cousin.
Our next-door neighbor is on vacation.
The man on the street was shouting
The on the street man was shouting.
The children were interested in hearing his story.
The press was excited about the President's speech.
The President is pleased with the response.
The President is pleased with how the people responded.
He talks about leaving.
He accused us of complaining.
He keeps on making trouble.
He worries about making deadlines.
She dreamed of becoming a ballet dancer.
She dreamed about becoming a ballet dancer.
I put off going to college.
Instead, I took care of raising my two children.
Most people aren't accustomed to working hard.
If you try, you can succeed in doing anything you want.
Celebrities are concerned ____ the activities of the Paparazzi.
Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speaker
Who did you give your number to?
To whom did you give your number? very formal
Can you tell me — what kind of person you are interested in?
Can you tell me — in what kind of person you are interested?
The word — that you looked up — is not in my dictionary.
The word — up which you looked — is not in my dictionary.
Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers
Calcium is in green leafy vegetables, for example, broccoli, kales, arugula, and spinach.
There is calcium in vegetables such as broccoli, kales, arugula, and spinach.
Cruciferous vegetables (i.e., Brassicaceae) have flowers shaped like a cross.
He went inside.
He went inside the house.
He went there.
Intermediate– Advanced ESL, Native Speaker
We would rather walk to work than drive. (coordinator: X and not Y)
We walk to work rather than drive. (X and not Y)
We walk to work rather than get caught in traffic. (subordinator: choosing X to avoid Y)
A wolf lets out a howl. (out = particle)
Let out the cat. (out = preposition)
Look up. / Look up the word in the dictionary.
He took his coat off. (separable)
He took off his coat.
The airplane took off. (nonseparable)
My friend is bringing me a letter.
My friend is bringing a letter to me.
My friend is bringing me it.
Intermediate– Advanced ESL, Native Speaker
We stayed up all night so that we could watch a meteor storm. (prep + content clause)
We stayed up late, so we were able to see the meteor storm pass. (connective adverb + content clause).
We staye up so late that we were able to see the meteor storm pass. (adverb expression + content clause)
For because, though, despite, in spite of, after, before, when, while, if, unless and so on, see Adjunct Prepositional Phrase