Are you struggling with Prepositions?



Prepositions and prepositional phrases are something we use in our daily conversations, sometimes without even noticing! They are one of the hardest concepts to master in the English language. You are not wrong if you think that they are intuitive, like second nature to us. In fact, most of the time they aren’t complicated. Prepositions such as in, on, and at, are probably the most basic ones that you learned during preschool, and they are not hard to use. For example:

The boss is at a meeting.

The dog is the bathroom.

The cookie jar is on the table.

However, the following examples also have preposition or prepositional phrase in them:

They have been fighting since this morning.

The math homework took less than half an hour.

We got a cat instead of a dog for the dorm.

Did you spot them?

The prepositions were since, than, and instead of.  Confusing, right? Let start over, from the basics.

What are prepositions or prepositional phrases?

Prepositions are words we use in a sentence that show the relationship between two other words. Prepositional phrases are simply a phase that consist of a preposition, such as into the woods.

Here is a list of some commonly use prepositions:


Preposition can be used to express different relationships. The following groups are the most common:

  • Location/Space
  • Time
  • Directional
  • Other relations (Comparison, possession, idiom)


Generally speaking in, on, or at can be viewed as a scale of specificity,  where in shows the most general relationship and at express the most specific description.

In is used when the subject is being surrounded by the object or a container of some sort.

  Examples: In a box, in a storm, in the house

On is used when the subject is on some kind of surface.

       Examples: on the table, on the floor, on the highway

At is used to express a specific location.

  Examples: at the train station, at the gate, at the dinner table



In: Used to describe a long period of time or any amount of time (Months, minutes)

On: Used to describe a specific period of time (On a specific day/week)

At: Used to describe a precise time of the day (At eight in the morning)



These are pretty self-explanatory and are often use to describe the spatial relations of objects.


  • Comparison
    • Than: Used to describe differences between two objects
      • Example: This apple is bigger than that orange.
  • Possession: This is probably one of the most confusing use of prepositions because we often use them without noticing, which is also the reason people misuse them!
    • Of: Shows belonging
      • Examples: The student of this school
    • Of: Shows amount
      • Examples: A cup of sugar

Common Mistakes:

One of the most common mistake people make while using prepositions is word choice. The pictures below can show you some examples. Most of the time, they will sound fine but it is actually not the proper way to phrase them. Another common mistake is when people add prepositional phrases to sentences unnecessarily.


Incorrect: He married with his best friend.

Correct: He married his best friend.

Now that you learn how to use to them properly, don’t forget to keep them in your daily lives!



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