Read the following sentences:

  • There is some water in the bottle.
  • He is fond of his daughter.
  • He fell off the ladder.

In sentence 1, the word in shows the relation between two things – water and bottle.

In sentence 2, the word of shows the relation between the adjective fond and the noun daughter.

In sentence 3, the word off shows the relation between the verb fell and the noun ladder.

These words which are used before a noun or a pronoun to show its relationship with another word in the sentence are called prepositions. The noun or pronoun which follows a preposition is called its object. Note that pronouns used after a preposition should be in the objective case.

  • He is fond of her. (NOT He is fond of she.)

A preposition may have two or more objects.

Between you and me there are few secrets. (Here the pronouns you and me are the objects of the preposition between.)

Kinds of prepositions

There are different kinds of prepositions.

Simple prepositions

These are words like at, in, for, to, with, on, off, out, etc.

  • He is in the office.
  • She sat on the bench.
  • She is angry with him.

Compound prepositions

These are words like above, before, behind, below, across, among, around, beside and between. Compound prepositions are generally formed by adding the prefix ‘a-‘ or ‘by-‘ to a noun, an adjective or an adverb.

Phrase prepositions

These are groups of words that serve as prepositions. Examples are: according to, along with, because of, in front of, by means of, on behalf of, in accordance with, in addition to, with reference to and in spite of.

  • Owing to his ill health, he retired from business.
  • He succeeded by dint of perseverance and hard work.
  • She stood in front of the mirror.
  • I can’t get along with him.