Rules for Prepositions- Rules in detail with examples

Improving your English Grammar knowledge can help increase your chances of qualifying for any competitive exam. Rules of prepositions are an important part of grammar, and a clear understanding of the rules of prepositions can enhance your fluency in spoken English. 

Prepositions are an important part of speech and tell us the position of a noun or pronoun. A preposition is always placed before a noun or pronoun and shows the direction, location, time, etc., of the noun or pronoun. In, at, on, to, of, for, above, below, under, over are some examples of prepositions. There are about 150 prepositions in English. Given below are the rules of prepositions with examples to assist you in easy understanding and correct application of the prepositions:

Table of Contents

Rules Of Prepositions

Rule 1 – A preposition must have an object – A preposition must have an object in the form of a noun, pronoun or noun phrase. An object is a person or thing on which the action is performed, and a preposition without an object is an adverb. Prepositions are connected with nouns, while adverbs are connected with verbs. Let us understand this rule of preposition with some examples:

  • The monkeys are sitting on a tree. Here, the preposition ‘on’ has the object ‘tree’.
  • Put your clothes on. Here, ‘on’ does not have an object; hence it is an adverb and not a preposition.
  • The kids are playing in the park. Here, the preposition ’in’ has the object ‘park’.
  • Let the kids come in. Here, the preposition ‘in’ does not have an object and qualifies the verb ‘come’; hence it is an adverb and not a preposition.

Rule 2 – A preposition is placed before an object – As the name suggests, it is mostly placed before an object, a noun or pronoun. For example:

  • The door is made of wood.
  • The dog ran after the man.
  • Please, keep your toys in the box.
  • The rabbit hid under the table.
  • What is the use of a telephone?

In some cases, even if the proposition is not placed before the object, it tells the relation with the object. Some of the examples where the preposition is not placed before the object are:

  • What is the door made of? Here, the preposition ‘of’ is not placed before the object but is used in relation to the pronoun ‘what’.
  • Who did the dog run after? Here, the preposition ‘after’ is not placed before the object but is used in relation to the pronoun ‘who’.

Some more examples are:-

  • What are you looking at?
  • Who are you talking to?

Rule 3 – The pronoun placed after the preposition should be in objective form, and not subjective form – The objective pronouns work as the direct or indirect object of the verb, such as me, you, him, her, us, them and whom. The prepositions should precede an objective form of the pronoun. Some of the examples of prepositions with objective pronouns are:-

  • Just look at them. Here, the preposition ‘at’ is followed by the objective pronoun ‘them’.
  • The conflict was between him and her. Here, the ‘between’ preposition is followed by the objective pronoun ‘him’ and ‘her’.

Some more examples are:-

  • This is for you from us.
  • Please bring a glass of water for me.
  • You are looking for whom?

Rule 4 – Prepositions comes in the beginning in interrogative sentences – In some cases, where the speaker intends to ask for something, the preposition is placed at the beginning of the sentence. Here are some examples of interrogative sentences in which prepositions are used as the first word in a sentence:

  • By what time should I reach there?
  • About how many students are there in your class?
  • From where should I start the work?
  • On which site can I find the most genuine information?
  • To what extent do you rely on me?

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Rule 5 – Use of ‘for’, ‘from’, and ‘since’ – 

‘For’ is used when you talk about a period of time. It can be used for past, present continuous and future tense. Examples:

  • Last year, I appeared for the medical entrance exam. (Past tense)
  • It is raining for three hours. (Present continuous tense)
  • We will meet next week for a discussion on the project. (Future tense)

‘From’ refers to the starting point of time or event. Example:

The session will begin from 9:00 AM and continue till noon.

The train will depart from the station in ten minutes.

‘Since’ is used when you are referring to a starting point of something or about a specific past event. You can use it to speak about something that began in the past and continues until the present. ‘Since’ cannot be used in the future tense. Examples:

It has been raining since last night.

I have been waiting for this opportunity since my childhood.

Rule 6 – Preposition with verbs – Prepositions follow verbs in some cases. Such types of prepositions are known as dependent prepositions. Examples: 

  • I am pleased to meet you.
  • He applied for the job of an accountant.
  • Ram believes in the power of worship.
  • The girl is afraid of lizards.
  • We were astonished at the beauty of the Taj Mahal.

Rule 7 – Preposition of time and place:  ‘In’, ‘at’, and ‘on’ are the common prepositions of time and place. Use of these prepositions with examples:

  • The bus will arrive in five minutes.
  • We celebrate Independence Day on 15th August.
  • The guests will come at night.
  • She lives in Bhopal.
  • The price of the dishes is written on the menu.
  • I like to stay at home.

                             Do not use in/on/at before the words ‘next’ or ‘last’. For example: “The meeting will be held next week” is correct. And if we write, “the meeting will be held in next week”, it is incorrect.

Similarly, “I slept early last night” is correct. And if we write, “I slept early at last night” is incorrect.

FAQ:

As per the rules of prepositions, where is a preposition mostly placed in a sentence?

According to the rules of prepositions, a preposition is commonly placed before an object which is a noun or pronoun.

What are the prepositions of time and place?

In, at, on, after, before are some prepositions of time and place.

Which form of pronouns should follow a preposition?

The objective form of pronoun should be used with a preposition.