Back to Back Issues Page
Michigan TIPS, Issue #011 Prepositions
February 16, 2009


Welcome to what I'm sure will be one of the most useful and encouraging Michigan TIPS.

I've got good news concerning another difficult aspect of the language. Yes, that's right, today I want to talk about... prepositions!

Oh, what's that? I hope you're not like one of my students who had really just given up hope of ever learning English prepositions.

In fact, any item which involved a preposition during class time she would simply say, 'oh well,' and not even try to learn it. So, in a sense, you are now benefiting from her refusal to learn prepositions. You see, I wanted to make learning them easier and even somewhat fun if I could.

Don't worry, I'm not going to give you a long list and tell you to "learn them" because we both know what kind of result we'd get.

Not a very good one I'm afraid, right? So............. I've included a whole bunch of fun exercises on my new site Advanced English Grammar.

What's more, I've put the prepositions into memorable groups similar to the following examples.

Example: What are you doing after school today? (time)

Example: What did you do that for? (For what reason, or why, did you do that?)

Example: I grew up next to, or beside, the school. (place, right next door)

As can be seen from the examples above, there are prepositions of place, time and reason. There are also prepositions of position, movement, ways and means, plus those that show group relationships and comparisons... just to name a few. (no wonder some students give up ever trying to learn them!)

Anyway, as we all know, prepositions are an important aspect of the language at this level. On my other site I've also included lists of prepositional phrases so that you can see prepositions in association with other words that they are ALWAYS found with. So, yes, looking over a couple of lists is not a bad idea it's just that, ultimately, it's probably not the most memorable way to learn this particular item.

Now, before you go to the other site to do the exercises, let's look at the following.

What are prepositions?

Simply stated, they are words that show the relationship between other words in the sentence. That's it. They come before nouns and pronouns and sometimes, (rarely) before other words. Plus, they don't change form with gender or case differences as do other words.


The following prepositions show what something is made of, that is, the material that is used in making the item.

from = Specific material, not necessarily the main material

I made this baby blanket from bits and pieces of old clothing.

in = Material or instrument used for something else (as in art works)

All his sketches are in charcoal.

of = 1. Real substance of something (describes finished product) 2.Substance of character (idiomatic)

1. His house was made of wood and stone.
2. Margaret Thatcher was known as the “woman of iron.”

out of = Specific, sometimes unusual material

His suit was made out of the finest silk.

with = Material added to something (often inside and describes the process of making)

The cakes were left to cool and then filled with cream and covered with a honey glaze.


The above gives you a taste of what you'll find on my Advanced English Grammar site.

If you like the site and the exercises do me a favor and save it in Facebook or one of your social bookmark tools. Don't forget to bookmark it! I appreciate it.

Oh, and one more thing, let me know what you would like to see next in the Michigan TIPS. I'm thinking of working on modal verbs as they also tend to give students difficulties.


Teaching + Inspiration + Practice = Success

Good learning everyone!

Till next time...



Need essay help? Writing Proficiently may be just what you need. See what others are saying about this useful book by clicking on the preceding link.

Back to Back Issues Page