prep·​o·​si·​tion | \ ˌpre-pə-ˈzi-shən How to pronounce preposition (audio) \

Definition of preposition

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

Other Words from preposition

prepositional \ ˌpre-​pə-​ˈzish-​nəl How to pronounce preposition (audio) , ˌpre-​pə-​ˈzi-​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective
prepositionally adverb

Frequently Asked Questions About preposition

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 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 Her schoolmate Stella Holtsclaw, a third grader, especially enjoys games during tutoring, like preposition bingo, and earning extra recess time. Chelsea Sheasley, The Christian Science Monitor, 15 Feb. 2022 Historian William Ian Miller attributes this new preposition to the fact that so few people are familiar with these old and specialized words. Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, 27 Sep. 2021 The remaining brigade of 2,500 soldiers will still head to Kuwait to preposition in case they are needed. Conor Finnegan, ABC News, 14 Aug. 2021 Once, Turley recalls, Barr called him at 2 in the morning from a corporate jet to point out a missing preposition in a footnote on page 20. Manuel Roig-franzia, Washington Post, 15 Sep. 2020 Take that most school-marmish among them, that of never ending a sentence with a preposition. Joseph Epstein, National Review, 12 Sep. 2019 What if every college football school trademarked an appropriate conjunction, preposition, adverb, pronoun or interjection of three letters or shorter? Mike Finger,, 15 Aug. 2019 See More

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.

First Known Use of preposition

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for 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

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Time Traveler for preposition

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

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Dictionary Entries Near preposition



prepositional phrase

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Statistics for preposition

Last Updated

21 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Preposition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for preposition


prep·​o·​si·​tion | \ ˌpre-pə-ˈzi-shən How to pronounce preposition (audio) \

Kids Definition of preposition

: 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on preposition

Nglish: Translation of preposition for Spanish Speakers


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