Overview of Prepositions

What is a Preposition?

Preposition - a relating word placed before a noun/pronoun, and shows the relation of that noun/pronoun with something else.

So, basically a preposition establishes a relationship between two words or phrases.

The noun/pronoun or noun equivalent which comes after a preposition is the object of that preposition. It is in objective case and is governed by that preposition.

There is a bear in the garden. (in – preposition; garden – a noun, which is the object of the preposition)

A box fell on him. (on – preposition; him – a pronoun, which is the object of the preposition)

Functions of Prepositions

Prepositions can do two things:

Function 1

Prepositions can connect other words to a noun/pronoun

It depends on the cost. (here the preposition ‘on’ links the noun ‘the cost’ with the verb ‘depends’)

Function 2

Prepositions can add idea of time, place and movement to noun/pronoun.

Meeting is on Wednesday. (idea of time added to the noun ‘meeting’)

The boxer sat in the corner. (idea of place added to the noun ‘boxer’)

He moved towards the door. (idea of movement added to the pronoun ‘he’)

Different types of Prepositional Objects

Preposition always takes an object. Let us see the types of objects a preposition can take.

Object is a Noun/Noun equivalent

He is talking to my father. (to – preposition; father – noun, prepositional object)

Object is a Pronoun

If Pronoun comes after Preposition then that pronoun is in objective case.

She is sending a parcel for me. (for – preposition; me - pronoun in objective case, prepositional object)

Object is a Gerund

If verb comes after preposition, then that verb is in -ing from (i.e. Gerund).

You can’t prevent me from going there. (from – preposition; going - gerund)

We also see the following pattern:

preposition + Ving form of verb + noun/pronoun (objective case)

She is very good at mesmerizing people. (at – preposition)

Object is an Adverb of time or place

It will be over by then. (by – preposition; then – adverb of time)

Since then he has not talked to me. (since – preposition; then – adverb of time)

Move away from there. (from – preposition; there – adverb of place)

Object is an Adverbial Phrase

She had not met him till a few days ago. (till – preposition; a few days ago – adverb phrase)

Object is a clause

Pay careful attention to what I am going to say. (to – preposition; what I am going to say – clause)

Special cases

Prepositions with multiple Objects

A Preposition may have two or more objects.

The road runs over hill and plain. (over – preposition; prepositional objects – hill, plain)

Omission of Objects

When object to a preposition is a relative pronoun, it is sometimes omitted.

He is the criminal we were looking for. (Here whom is understood; for - preposition)

We can rephrase the sentence as: He is the criminal whom we were looking for.

Omission of Prepositions

The prepositions for, from, in, on, of, to, after etc. are often omitted.

Wait a minute. (for – omitted preposition; minute – noun of time)
We can rephrase it as - Wait for a minute.

Where have you been? (to – omitted preposition)
We can rephrase it as – Where have you been to?

Having eaten my dinner I went to sleep. (After – omitted preposition)
We can rephrase it as - After having eaten my dinner I went to sleep.

Different verbs/adjectives with different prepositions

If two verbs/adjectives etc take two different prepositions, we must mention both the prepositions.

Just using one preposition with the last verb/adjective will be incorrect.

My wife is aware and involved in that case. (incorrect)
My wife is aware of and involved in that case. (correct; of, in - prepositions)

She is senior and older than I. (incorrect)
She is senior to and older than I. (correct; to, than - prepositions)

But if the two verbs/adjectives etc take the same preposition, then we can use only one preposition. No need to use the same preposition twice.

He is older and taller than her younger brother. (correct; than - preposition)

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