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Prepositions

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Overview:

Prepositions are used with nouns and pronouns to create prepositional phrases that help clarify the where, when, how, what kind, why, and who questions in writing.  Here we will look at a few different prepositions and discuss which types work best depending on the message you are trying to convey in your writing.  You should understand that prepositions most often serve multiple functions, so those covered in this handout are just one piece of the preposition puzzle.

Some of the most common prepositions are as follows:

about

above/across

at

after

against

along

around

beside

before

below

behind

beneath

beyond

by

during

despite

down

for/from

in/inside/into

like

near

of

on/onto

out/outside

over

till/to/toward

since

through/out

under/neath

with/in/out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Rules for At, On, and In

    Use at to designate specific times: The English final is at 12:15.
    Use on to designate times and dates: My birthday is on Monday.
    Use in for non-specific times during a day, week, month or year: She likes to paint in the evening.

Where Rules for At, On, and In

    Use at for specific addresses: She lives at 555 N. Hardway Street.
    Use on to designate names of streets: She lives on Hardway Street. 
    Use in for the names of land areas: Long Beach is in Los Angeles County.
    Use in for inside of a place: The Writer’s Resource Lab is in the Language Arts Building.
    Use on for on top of something: Liz left her laptop on her bed.

How Rules for With and By

    Use with and by to indicate how an action was completed:
       
      She wrote with purpose.
      By working hard, the gymnast won a gold medal.

What Kind Rules for With

    Use with to indicate what kind of:  I enjoy pizza with jalapenos.  

Why Rules for For and Since

    Use for and since to clarify because statements that answer why questions:

      I will be at work twelve hours today for I missed a shift last week.
      Since I have deficiencies, I will be at CSULB for an extra year.

Who Rules for With, From, By and Of

    Use with, from, by and of to describe who:

      I went to the store with Amanda.
      Michael is my friend from Las Vegas.
      My favorite poem is written by Emily Dickinson.
      Jessica and I are the closest of all the cousins.

Style Matters:

As nouns and pronouns are supposed to follow a preposition, writers are commonly instructed to never end a sentence with a preposition. This is generally true if the preposition at the end of the sentence is not needed. For example, in conversation, a person might commonly say, “Where is it at?” In this case, the preposition at the end of the sentence is unnecessary, as the sentence would function just as well without it: “Where is it?” However, if you’re asking the question, “What are you listening to?” the preposition at the end makes sense, as “To what are you listening?” is not a common or modern way to structure sentences.


Copyright (C) 2010. All rights reserved.
This handout is part of a library of instructional materials used in California State University, Long Beach’s writing center, the Writer’s Resource Lab. Educators and students are welcome to distribute copies as long as they do so with attribution to all organizations and authors. Commercial distribution is prohibited.