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Usage of prepositions

The following sentences show how prepositions are used. The noun or pronoun following a preposition is called the object.



  1. He looked about him.
  2. I have heard about the matter.
  3. I shall see you at about five o’clock.



  1. They came after dinner.
  2. We have had one problem after another.
  3. The girl was named after her grandmother.



  1. It’s no use hitting your head against a stone wall.
  2. I did it against my wish.
  3. He warned me against that danger.



  1. (Place) He is at home, at Chennai, at sea, etc.
  2. (Time) He came on Monday at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
  3. (Verb of motion) We arrived at station. (surprised at, astonished at, rejoice at)
  4. These are sold at ten dollars each.
  5. He came at once (at least, at ease, at leisure, to be at a loss, at work, at play)



  1. He is standing between the two trees.
  2. The money was shared between the boy and his sister.



  1. (Place) Come and sit by the fire.
  2. (Time) I shall have finished the work by Monday.
  3. Take him by the hand.
  4. We sell fish by the kilo.
  5. They are paid by an hour.
  6. I learnt it by heart.



  1. This is for me.
  2. He has been waiting here for two hours.
  3. Go home for your book and look for it.
  4. He was imprisoned for life.
  5. He sold his house for Rs. 100000/-
  6. Don’t translate word for word.



  1. He has gone away from here.
  2. She has declared it from top to bottom.
  3. This is quite different from that.
  4. She is never free from pain.



  1. (Position) I am sitting in the room; in a bus; in London, etc.
  2. The things were piled in heap.
  3. He is badly in debt, but is in good health.
  4. His answer was in the negative.
  5. This is his letter in reply to mine.
  6. You have come just in time to help me.
  7. This happened in the reign of Akbar.



  1. (To express motion) He walked into the room.
  2. Throw this into the river.
  3. Don’t get into trouble.
  4. She broke into tears.
  5. The water changed into ice.



  1. He died of old age.
  2. That is real work of art.
  3. He gave me a piece of good advice.
  4. That box is made of wood.
  5. The whole of Greenland is covered with snow.
  6. We visited the city of Calcutta.



  1. (Motion towards) They walked to the town.
  2. (Time) He was punctual to the minute.
  3. It fell to the ground.
  4. He pointed to the hill.
  5. He is slow to anger.
  6. To whom did you give it?
  7. Read it from beginning to end.
  8. We were wet to the skin.
  9. I prefer reading to writing.



  1. I had to talk with him.
  2. She is a girl with blue eyes.
  3. He filled the box with sand.
  4. I did it with his help.
  5. He lived with his uncle.
  6. She went to town with her friends.
  7. He killed the snake with a stick.
  8. Don’t fight with him.
  9. They were shaking with cold.
  10. Her face was wet with tears.


At, In
‘at’ refers to a point of time; ‘in’ to a larger space of time. E.g., He came at 8 o’clock in the morning. Similarly, for a small place we use ‘at’ E.g., He lives at Adyar in Chennai.


Beside, Besides

‘beside’ means ‘by the side of’. E.g., He sat beside his wife.
‘besides’ means ‘in addition to’. E.g., There are others here besides you.


By, With

‘by’ is generally used for the person; ‘with’ is used for the instrument.
E.g., He was killed with a knife by his enemy.


Between, Among

‘between’ is used for two; ‘among’ for more than two.
E.g., The money was divided between the two boys.
The sweet were divided among the ten children. 


Since, From

‘since’ is used for a point of time, along with the present perfect tense; ‘from’ can be used in any tense.
E.g., She has been ill since last Monday.
We have lived here since the last war.
She was ill from Monday to Friday.
He starts (will start) work from tomorrow.


For, Before

In a negative sentence, ‘for’ is used for a period of time; and ‘before’ for a point of time.
E.g., She will not be here for an hour yet.
She will not be here before five o’clock.


In, Within

When referring to time, ‘in’ denotes the close of a period; ‘within’ denoted a time less than the close of a period.
E.g., I shall return in a year’s time. (After a year)
I shall return within a year. (Before a year has passed)



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