Preposition Summary



Prep Diagnostic: identify specific points that need review

sports shoe

Quiz 1: beginning – intermediate

Quiz 2: intermediate – advanced

Preposition Uses / Functions

Preposition Uses: recognize how they function in clauses

Beginning–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

Canyon explorer

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)




Preposition Phrases for Time & Place

Prepositions for Time: relating temporal information—When?

Beginning–Advanced ESL


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.

Prepositions for Place: relating locational information—Where?

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

Bambi Airstream trailer

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.

Paragraph Practice:  using preposition of time and place

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

gold medalist

Michael Phelps made sports history by winning eight gold medals ___ the 2008 Olympics ___ Beijing, China.

At / In Expressions:  expressing progress within and space within

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

map location / inside location

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.

During / In: expressing duration vs. exact time

Beginning–Intermediate ESL


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.

For / Since: Indicating a quantity of time vs. a specific time

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

Thin Cover Girls

We have been coming to this beach for fifteen years.

We have been coming to this beach since July, 1995.

By the time: view relative progress or completion

Intermediate– Advanced ESL, Native Speaker


By the time I leave work, the sun will be setting. (ongoing)

By the time I leave work, the sun will have set. (completed)

Verb and Preposition Combinations

Adjective w/ Prep: describing emotional reactions 

Beginning–Intermediate ESL


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.


Participle w/ Prep: describing emotional reactions 

Intermediate–Advanced ESL


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.

Participial Modifier w/ Preposition: pair past-participles with prepositions

Intermediate–Advanced ESL

Paparazzi camera flash

Celebrities are concerned ____ the activities of the Paparazzi.


Phrasal Verbs: using verbal expressions  (verb + particle)

Beginning–Advanced ESL

wolf lets out a howl

Look up. 
Look up the word in the dictionary.

He took his coat off.
He took off his coat. 
The airplane took off.

Verb + Prep Phrase: commenting on activities

Intermediate–Advanced ESL

overworked man

He talks about leaving.

He accused us of complaining.

He keeps on making trouble.

He worries about making deadlines.

Verb + Prepositional Phrase Practice 1: Stating attitudes, opinions, and intentions about activities

Beginning–Intermediate ESL


She dreamed of becoming a ballet dancer.

She dreamed about becoming a ballet dancer.

Verb + Prepositional Phrase Practice 2: commenting on activities and plans

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

Studying with Children

I put off going to college.

Instead, I took care of raising my two children.

Verb + Prepositional Phrase Practice 3: commenting on activities and plans

Beginning–Intermediate ESL


Most people aren't accustomed to working hard.

If you try, you can succeed in doing anything you want.

Ending with a Preposition: placement options

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speaker

A mismatch on a date

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.

Related Pages

For Example: add an example or a clarification

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

e.g. and i.e.

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.


Gerunds w/ Subjects: expressing attitudes about the activities of others

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

Fixing door

I thanked him for fixing my door.

I appreciate his fixing my door.

By / With: stating means and method  

Beginning–Intermediate ESL


You can open it by using a knife.

You can cut the string with a knife.

For + Gerund Clause: stating function

Beginning–Intermediate ESL


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.

Prep + Gerund Clause: relate one activity to another

Intermediate–Advanced. ESL

watching tv

Jason read the manual before beginning the installation.

You can't turn it on without plugging it in.

Jane got it working by using a different cable.

Ditransitive Verbs: Indicate the person or thing affected by the action (direct & indirect objects)

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

A letter

My friend is bringing me a letter.

My friend is bringing a letter to me.

*My friend is bringing me it.

*Thank you the present.