noun prep·o·si·tion \ ˌpre-pə-ˈzi-shən \
|Updated on: 13 Jul 2018

Definition of preposition

: a function word that typically combines with a noun phrase to form a phrase which usually expresses a modification or predication


play \ˌpre-pə-ˈzish-nəl, ˌpre-pə-ˈzi-shə-nᵊl\ adjective



Examples of preposition in a Sentence

  1. The preposition “on” in “The keys are on the table” shows location.

  2. The preposition “in” in “The movie starts in one hour” shows time.

Recent Examples of preposition from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'preposition.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

What is a preposition?

Prepositions show direction, location, or time, or introduce an object. They are usually followed by an object—a noun, noun phrase, or pronoun. The most common prepositions are little and very common:

at, by, for, from, in, of, on, to, with

Also common 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

Prepositions typically show how the noun, noun phrase, or pronoun is related to another word in the sentence.

a friend of mine

the dress with the stripes

hit by a ball

no one except me

Prepositions with their objects form prepositional phrases. A preposition may appear at the end of a sentence or clause, but only when its object comes earlier. Contrary to what some may say, there is nothing ungrammatical about such structures.

Was he the man you worked with?

That isn't what a hammer is for.

It's the chair you're sitting on.

She just needs someone to talk to.

Many prepositions (such as past, under, off, along, and on) may also act as adverbs. A few (including before, after, for, and since) may act as conjunctions (words that join together other words or groups of words).

Origin and Etymology of preposition

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

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms

PREPOSITION Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of preposition for English Language Learners

  • grammar : a word or group of words that is used with a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase to show direction, location, or time, or to introduce an object

PREPOSITION Defined for Kids


noun prep·o·si·tion \ ˌpre-pə-ˈzi-shən \

Definition of preposition for Students

: 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.

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