Chapter 8
The Preposition

We have learnt that a preposition shows relation between two things. It is placed before a noun or a pronoun to show the relation between the person or the thing denoted by it in regard to something referred by it. The word Preposition means ‘that which is placed before’. Let us consider the following examples.

  1. He sat near me.
  2. Put it on the table.

The word near shows the relation between the action sat and me. On shows the relation between it and the table. These words are called prepositions. The pronoun me in the first sentence is the object of the preposition near; the noun table is the object of the preposition on.

Thus the noun or pronoun that follows a preposition is its object.

Note:

  1. Sometimes, the object to a preposition is an adverb of time or place.

Examples

  1. I will be done by then. (that time)
  2. Come away from there. (that place)
  1. Sometimes the object to a preposition is an adverbial phrase.

Examples

  1. Each article was sold at over a rupee.
  2. He did not see her till a few days ago.
  1. A clause can also be the object to a preposition.

Examples

  1. Pay careful attention to what I am going to say.
  2. There is no meaning in what you say.
  1. The object to a preposition when it is a relative pronoun is sometimes omitted.

Examples

  1. He is the man I was looking for. (the object whom is understood)
  2. These are the good rules to live by. (the object which is understood)

Kinds of prepositions

There are three kinds of prepositions.

  1. Simple preposition
  2. Compound preposition
  3. Phrase preposition

Simple preposition

Definition

A simple preposition is a word that shows the relationship between two things without the help of another word.

Examples

  1. The purse is in the box.
  2. The current passes throughout the wire.

Explanation

In the above examples in and throughout relate to the subject and the object without the help of another word. They are called simple prepositions. Similarly at, by, for, from, in, of, off, on, out, through, till, to, up, with etc are simple prepositions.

Compound preposition

Definition

A compound preposition is formed by prefixing a preposition to a noun, an adjective or an adverb.
Examples

  1. The dog ran along the road.
  2. Stand behind me.

Explanation

In the above examples along and behind are formed by prefixing the preposition a and be (by) to the adjectives long and hind, so they are called Compound Prepositions. Similarly about, above, across, along, amidst, among, amongst, around, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, inside, outside, underneath, within, without etc are all compound prepositions.

Phrase preposition

Definition

These are groups of words that have the force of a single preposition.

Examples

  1. It was done according to your instructions.
  2. The spot is away from public road or dwelling.
  3. Owing to illness he was absent.

Explanation

In the three examples above more than one word is used as a single preposition. They are called phrase prepositions. Similarly according to, agreeably to, along with, away from, in accordance with, in addition to, in case of, in lieu of, in place of, in reference to, in regard to, with regard to, with a view to, with an eye to etc are all examples of phrase prepositions.

Note:

  1. Barring, concerning, considering, during, notwithstanding, pending, regarding, respecting, touching etc are present participles of verbs and are used without any noun or pronoun being attached to them. They are also considered prepositions and are sometimes distinguished as participial prepositions.
  2. Some words can be used either as adverbs or as prepositions.

Examples

  1. I could not come before.
  2. I came the day before yesterday.

Explanation

In the first sentence before is a adverb, while in the second before is an preposition. A word is a preposition when it governs a noun or pronoun while it is an adverb when it does not.

Use of certain prepositions

  1. The company was established in London.
  2. We stayed at Hampi.

In, used with countries and big cities. At, used with small towns and villages.

  1. We cut it with an axe.
  2. The tiger was shot by the hunter.

With, for an instrument and by,for the agent.

  1. There was quarrel between the father and the son.
  2. There was a misunderstanding among the different political parties.

Between is used when speaking of two persons or things. Among is used when there are more than two.

  1. The child has been missing since Tuesday.
  2. He will start attending from tomorrow.
  3. He commenced writing from last year.
    Since is used while denoting a point of time and is preceded by present perfect tense; from is used with all tenses.