preposition

noun

prep·​o·​si·​tion ˌpre-pə-ˈzi-shən How to pronounce preposition (audio)
: a function word that typically combines with a noun phrase to form a phrase which usually expresses a modification or predication
prepositional
ˌpre-pə-ˈzish-nəl How to pronounce preposition (audio)
ˌpre-pə-ˈzi-shə-nᵊl
adjective
prepositionally adverb

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you end a sentence with a preposition?

There is nothing wrong with ending a sentence in a preposition like to, with, for, or at. English speakers have been doing so since the days of Old English. The people who claim that a terminal preposition is wrong are clinging to an idea born in the 17th century and largely abandoned by grammar and usage experts in the early 20th.

What exactly is a preposition?

A preposition is a word—and almost always a very small, very common word—that shows direction (to in "a letter to you"), location (at in "at the door"), or time (by in "by noon"), or that introduces an object (of in "a basket of apples"). Prepositions are typically followed by an object, which can be a noun (noon), a noun phrase (the door), or a pronoun (you).

What is an example of a preposition?

The most common prepositions are at, by, for, from, in, of, on, to, and with. Other common prepositions are about, above, across, after, against, along, among, around, because of, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, close to, down, during, except, inside, instead of, into, like, near, off, on top of, onto, out of, outside, over, past, since, through, toward, under, until, up, upon, within, without.

Examples of preposition in a Sentence

The preposition “on” in “The keys are on the table” shows location. The preposition “in” in “The movie starts in one hour” shows time.
Recent Examples on the Web Grace then took a moment in her statement to go into full George Carlin mode and differentiate her intention with changing the preposition. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, 21 June 2024 Washington should maintain its existing high-tempo military exercises in the region, preposition ammunition stocks for a possible conflict, and rotate strategic assets such as B-52 bombers, stealth warplanes, nuclear submarines, and aircraft carriers regularly to the peninsula. Victor Cha, Foreign Affairs, 1 Apr. 2018 Many were adamant that a concluding preposition is lazy, or just sounded plain weird. Emma Bowman, NPR, 27 Feb. 2024 Binomial idiom This idiom is a phrase that contains two words joined by a conjunction or a preposition. Kurt Snibbe, Orange County Register, 19 Jan. 2024 People have invested a lot of time in finding ways to not end clauses and sentences with prepositions. Emma Bowman, NPR, 27 Feb. 2024 Prepositional idiom This idiom is a phrase that combines a verb and a preposition to create a verb with a distinct meaning. Kurt Snibbe, Orange County Register, 19 Jan. 2024 Across the table from him sat Somer, and next to him, my father, who, though still deeply mourning the loss of my mother, was able to at least try to be his usual, puckish self, employing swears like the rest of us use prepositions. Nicole Avant, Rolling Stone, 28 Oct. 2023 For objects of verbs and prepositions, use me, you, him, her, it, us, and them. Richard Lederer, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 May 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'preposition.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English preposicioun, from Anglo-French preposicion, from Latin praeposition-, praepositio, from praeponere to put in front, from prae- pre- + ponere to put — more at position

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of preposition was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near preposition

Cite this Entry

“Preposition.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/preposition. Accessed 18 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

preposition

noun
prep·​o·​si·​tion ˌprep-ə-ˈzish-ən How to pronounce preposition (audio)
: a word or group of words that combines with a noun or pronoun to form a phrase that usually acts as an adverb, adjective, or noun
"with" in "the house with the red door" is a preposition
prepositional
-ˈzish-nəl How to pronounce preposition (audio)
-ən-ᵊl
adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on preposition

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