IDP IELTS Blog

Grammar Lesson 101: Prepositions and What You Should Know

8 Jul 2019
Grammar Lesson 101: Prepositions and What You Should Know

Prepositions are tricky bits of English grammar that even some native speakers have difficulty mastering. Part of the problem is that there are no hard-and-fast rules about what preposition to use and when to use it. Generally speaking, the best way to learn when to use a particular preposition is to master the entire phrase it belongs to.

What Is a Preposition?

There are very specific words that belong to the preposition class of words. Some of the most common ones include:

  • About
  • After
  • At
  • Between
  • By
  • Except
  • For
  • From
  • In
  • Of
  • Off
  • Up
  • With

A preposition is a word that shows the relationship between a noun or a pronoun and another element or word in the rest of the sentence. Let us take a look at how prepositions work.

  • He swam between the buoys.

The preposition between connects the noun buoys with the verb swam.

  • The dog jumped from the sofa.

The preposition from connects the noun sofa with the verb jumped.

  • There are plenty of jobs available.

The preposition of connects the noun job with the adjective plenty.

Prepositional Problems

Because prepositional words tend to have more than one function, learning when and how to use a particular preposition can be tricky. The word “at,” for instance, has 18 different functions. English learners can directly translate a preposition from their native language. However, there are no real rules about when to use a particular word and mistakes are easily made.

For instance, the sentences “I will leave at noon.” and “I will leave by noon.” are both correct and convey the generally the same meaning (who is leaving and at what time). However, changing the preposition to after — I will leave after noon — changes the meaning of the sentence entirely.

How to Learn When to Use Prepositions

There are some general guidelines that can help English learners know when to use particular prepositions:

  • “On” with days of the week. I will see you on
  • “In” for months and years. I was born in I visited Spain in 2018.
  • “At” for specific times. I will meet you at 5 PM.

Though it should be noted that there are more exceptions to the rules than there are guidelines to follow.

Native English speakers grow up learning when to use particular prepositions not by memorization of rules because there are not any, but by mimicking what they have heard. The best way to learn prepositions is to practice your English speaking skills on a regular basis. It’s through practice, you will learn when to use prepositions.

Regular use of prepositions through practice will help to ensure learners make fewer errors and achieve greater mastery. If you need further assistance in preparing for your IELTS exam, please feel free to explore the content on our website for practice materials or contact your nearest Test Centre today!

Testimonials

The webinar which was held on the 1st of November was satisfactory, informative and valuable. All the questions were answered and explained in a proper way. Thank you!
Olena, Company CEO
Thanks to IDP IELTS Masterclass for the interesting webinar, it was very informative, well organised and practical.
Hussein, Student
I like that they are open to give us some information and kind of training course without any cost so we can get ready for this important test.
Danna, Student
This was a fantastic presentation! It was very clear, practical and moved at a good pace. I would highly recommend these webinars
Shauna, Student
IDP IELTS Masterclass really helpful, as preparation for the IELTS exam and give us support in many ways to improve our English.
Leny, Company CEO
IELTS has been growing steadily for 20 years because it works. It’s good to know that IELTS has been the choice of millions of people over the years. IELTS stood out immediately because it tests all four skills – reading, writing, speaking and listening, giving a well-rounded assessment of my English
Arnik Surasarang, Teacher
Instructions before the IELTS written and speaking test were very clear and the people were nice and helpful. I found the written test pretty good. It was not too difficult, nor too simple. The results came quickly and I was accepted in the program and I am currently in the middle of my first year exams.
Nicholas Cletz, Company CEO
80+ Test Locations Across Latin America
World's most popular English-language test for work, study, and migration. IELTS is recognised by over 10,000 organizations in over 140 countries worldwide. Speaking test administered face-to-face in a private, quiet room with a certified IELTS examiner