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July 13, 2022

What exactly is a preposition, and how do we use one?  Quite simply, a preposition is part of the English language used to designate a location or a timestamp.  A preposition helps introduce information to the reader such as where something takes place or where someone or something is located.  For example, the preposition “at” can be used to determine location. 

at the store

at the field

at the movies


Readers like to have a general timestamp without being told exact times.  Prepositions make this easy to do. The preposition “before” is a way to share a timestamp.

before dinner

before sunset

before lunch

One important aspect of prepositions is that they cannot stand alone.  Prepositions only work in a group setting of words. This setting is called a prepositional phrase.  Every prepositional phrase begins with a preposition and ends with a noun or pronoun.


When introducing prepositions in your classroom, keep things simple. First, have your students grab a pen or pencil from their desks. Next, ask them to hold the pen or pencil “between” themselves and their neighbor.  Ask them to hold the item “above” their heads. Have them hold it “under” their desks. Have them lay it “upon” their desks.


Once you have shared all of the different “places,” ask them if they noticed the different locations.  Explain to them that this is what a preposition is and what it does.  It helps to share where the object is for the reader.  After explaing how a preposition shares a timestamp or location, you can then move further into prepositional phrases.

Let's look at the sentence, "My brother laughed." This is a perfectly good sentence; however, it doesn't really tell the reader much.  If we add more detail in the form of a prepositional phrase, it can provide us with much more information.

My brother laughed at the comedian.

The readers now know a bit more information as to why the brother laughed.


Another way for you to share prepositions and their uses is to have your students write a journal entry.  Give them about 5 to 10 minutes to complete their writing. Once they are done, give them each a clean piece of paper.  Have them go through what they have just written, only this time have them remove all of the prepositions. Once they finish, divide the class into 2 groups, one group having the pages with prepositions and the other group holding the pages without prepositions.  Call upon various students to read 3 sentences out loud from each page.  As they begin to understand more about prepositional phrases, they can then enjoy using someone else’s prepositional phrases in their papers. 


Prepositions can be challenging at first, but they don’t have to be.  There are not many rules that determine the use of prepositions, and it may be easier for students to simply familiarize themselves with prepositions so they’ll know them when they see them.  Most times, prepositions will indicate the following:

Prepositions of Direction

Prepositions of Time

Prepositions of Place

Prepositions of Location

Prepositions of Spatial Relationship

If you’d like to learn more about how to teach or how to create lesson plans for prepositions, GrammarFlip is here to help!  Start your free trial with us today.

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