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TYPES OF PREPOSITION

One of the eight classes of words is Preposition. It is a word in a sentence that is placed before a noun, pronoun or phrase to show its relationship to the rest of the sentence.

The term ‘preposition’ indicates that there is a position regarding the relationship between the noun and the rest of the sentence. There is no preposition unless a word links a noun or pronoun to the rest of the sentence.

Examples include with, beside, up to, during, on behalf of, by, etc.

An example of a sentence with a preposition can be;

The children are playing with the toys.

The word ‘with’ is the link or bridge between the verb ‘playing’ and the noun ‘toys’. The phrase ‘the toys’ is called the object of the preposition (with) it introduces. Without the proposition ‘with’, the sentence will mean that the children are playing something (or a game) called ‘the toys’.

In this article / lesson we are discussing the five types of prepositions based on the words they contain. They are Simple, Double, Compound, Phrasal and Participial prepositions.

Simple Prepositions are one-word and one-syllable prepositions. They are the most common prepositions and usually used to determine the location, time or direction of nouns in sentences. Examples are ; at, by, down, for, from

In, of, on over, past, round, since, through, till, to, under, up and with. They have the name simple because most of them are used as prefixes of other words. The following sentences have simple prepositions in them:

In this article / lesson we are discussing the five types of prepositions based on the words they contain. They are Simple, Double, Compound, Phrasal and Participial prepositions.

Simple Prepositions are one-word and one-syllable prepositions. They are the most common prepositions and usually used to determine the location, time or direction of nouns in sentences. Examples are ; at, by, down, for, from

In, of, on over, past, round, since, through, till, to, under, up and with. They have the name simple because most of them are used as prefixes of other words. The following sentences have simple prepositions in them:

  1. Jack and Jill went down the hill. The preposition is ‘down’ and it’s linking ‘Jack and Jill went’ to ‘the hill’ (the object of the preposition).

  2. We will finish by the end of today. The word ‘by’ the preposition linking when ‘we will finish’ to ‘the end of today’ showing the time we will finish.

  3. There was something wrong with the car. The preposition ‘with’ is linking ‘something wrong’ and ‘the car’ (the object of the preposition). It’s showing that something wrong is happening to the car.

In some cases, two simple prepositions are used together. Such prepositions are called Double prepositions and they often indicate movement or direction. They can be single or separated words. Examples are upon, up to, onto, within, without, into, out of and throughout. Sentences with examples can be:

  1. The demonstrators were driven out of the streets. ‘out of’ showing the direction the demonstrators were driven.

  2. It rained throughout the day.‘Throughout’ is indicating the part of the day it rained.

  3. The baby climbed onto the bed. The word ‘unto’ linking ‘the baby climbed’ and the ‘bed’ and showing the direction of the baby’s climbing.

Compound prepositions are multi syllabic prepositions formed by a prefix being added to a preposition. This differentiates them from double prepositions. They usually follow the pattern: prefix + noun / adjective / adverb The prepositions formed are combined with a non-prepositional word ( the prefix ). The compound prepositions tends to signify spatial relation (position in space).

They include; about, amidst, above, along, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, outside, towards, etc.

1 The meeting was held amidst chaos and confusion. ‘Amidst’ means in the middle of. Prefix ‘a’ is added to ‘mid’ (short form of middle-a noun) and ending in ‘st’ whose sound originated from Shakespeare's type of language).

2. Only students beyond the ages of 14 are allowed to enter the competition.

‘Be’ and ‘yond’ meaning far and away or

past the age of 14.

3. We found a parcel left outside the neighbour’s door.

‘Outside’ means out the side of the neighbour’s door.

All the above words show position.

There are also a group of words that act as a single preposition. The words include a preposition, an object (noun) and an object’s modifier and they are called Phrasal prepositions. The group of words can be the subject of the sentence or as object and modifying the verb or noun in a sentence. They include in front of, with reference to, contrary to, with the exception of, on account of, and with regards to.

Phrasal prepositions should not be confused with Prepositional phrases, which are words that follow a preposition (as the object of the preposition). Phrasal prepositions are commonly used expressions which have their group of words always used together. They must therefore be learnt in order to know how and when to use them. Examples of sentence with phrasal prepositions are:

1. The alarm will ring in case of any fire outbreak.

‘in case of’ is modifying the noun phrase ‘fire outbreak’ and meaning in the event of a fire outbreak the alarm will ring.

2. We are closing as a result of the incident. ‘as a result of’ is linking ‘closing’ to the ‘incident’ showing why we are closing.

3. They said something in opposition to what really happened. ‘in opposition to’ is

modifying the verb ‘said’ to show that what they said is different from what really happened.

Sometimes the present participle (-ing verbs) or past participle ( -ed, -d, -en) tenses of verbs are used without any noun or pronoun being taken on as subject. Examples are barring, interested, concerning, considering, given, provided, drawn, and followed by a preposition and its object, and so are called Participial prepositions. These types of prepositions can describe (qualify or modify) the nouns in sentences. They have a modifier and/or nouns, pronouns or noun phrases that function as direct or indirect objects, or complements of the action or state expressed in the participle.

When a participial preposition (phrase) comes before a main clause in a sentence, it is separated with a comma.

Some sentences can be;

  1. Holding up the torch, Ken walked through the tunnel. The participial preposition functions as an adverbial phrase modifying how Ken walked ; ‘holding’ (up), as present participle, and ‘the torch’ as direct object of the action expressed in a participle.

  2. Floppy, interested in soft toys, won the competition. The participial preposition ‘interested in soft toys’ (past participle + preposition + direct object), functions as an adjectival phrase describing the noun Floppy.

  3. We went to the veterinary to see the dog bitten by a snake. The participial preposition ‘bitten ( past participle) by (preposition) a snake’ (direct object of the participle) is describing the dog.

  4. Having been a past student, Mary knew whom to contact. The participial preposition is ‘having been a past student’ and it modifies Mary; ‘having been’ (as past participle) and ‘a past student’ (as subject complement of the state expressed in the participle).