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
ˌpre-pə-ˈzish-nəl How to pronounce preposition (audio)
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.

Example Sentences

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 People usually talk at me, near me, over me, against me—pretty much every preposition except after I’m finished talking. Meghana Indurti, The New Yorker, 7 Apr. 2021 Such a preposition would be preposterous. Morten Jensen, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2022 Even some $20 billion in infrastructure investments funded by the U.S. since 2015 under the European Deterrence Initiative to upgrade the capacity and preposition of equipment of eastern flank NATO partners will not be enough to absorb the U.S. troops. Abraham Mahshie, Washington Examiner, 10 June 2020 Since being granted access in 2016, the U.S. has used these sites to build facilities and preposition defense assets. Sui-lee Wee, New York Times, 3 Feb. 2023 That’s seven nouns, two adjectives, one preposition, and no verb. David Owen, The New Yorker, 12 Jan. 2023 Preposition isn’t a preposition, and sentence isn’t a sentence. Richard Lederer, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Sep. 2022 Attention has clearly gone into each misspelling, unsuitable preposition, and grocer’s apostrophe. Colin Marshall, The New Yorker, 17 June 2022 Sometimes the ingredients are reversed and yoked by a preposition. New York Times, 23 Mar. 2022 See More

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


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.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


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
-ˈzish-nəl How to pronounce preposition (audio)

More from Merriam-Webster on preposition

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