Preposition Usage

Preposition Usage

Preposition usage is an important part of the English Language, or any language for that matter. So just what is proper usage?

Prepositions are generally used to show the relationship between its object and other words in the sentence.

The following show preposition usage and the relationships of prepositions with the other words in the sentences they are in.

Remembering relationships will help you remember which preposition to use.

Also, you might want to check out my other web site called Advanced English Grammar. It has many, many pages of prepositions and their usage plus free exercises to test and increase your knowledge of English grammar.

Place (in, on, under, over, near, beside, etc.)

“Your book is on the table.”

Direction (to, toward, into, through, etc.)

“The football player ran through the stadium to the other end.”

Time (in, on, at, etc.)

“We can meet at five o’clock.”

Agent (by)

“This book was written by a famous author.”

Instrument (by, with)

“I heard the news by television. (Communication)

“She came by bus.” (Transportation)

“He opened the door with a key.” (Instrument or tool)


We use by + no article for communication and transportation.

Examples: by phone, by radio, and by bus, by car

Accompaniment (with)

“I like spaghetti with white sauce.”

“Mrs. Vajiona went to Thassos Island with her husband Georgios.”

Purpose (for)

“He went to the store for milk and bread.


Never, Never use for + verb + ing to express the purpose of the verb.

Example: “He went to the store for buying milk and bread.” This is wrong usage and a common mistake!

Partition / Possession (of)

“They painted the front of the building white and green.”

“He broke the top of the table with his fist.”

Measure (by, of)

“We buy our olive oil by the 16 kilo container.”

“Please buy a quart of milk from the market.”

Similarity (like)

“Mary walks like her mother.”

Capacity (as)

“Bill worked as a fireman until a year ago.”

Now you’ve seen some basic preposition usage. Remember, it’s best to know/learn them in combination with other words. The next page deals with preposition combinations.

You can begin learning preposition combinations by clicking on preposition usage.