Prepositions are short words (on, in, to) that usually stand in front of nouns (sometimes also in front of gerund verbs).


Even advanced learners of English find prepositions difficult, as a 1:1 translation is usually not possible. One preposition in your native language might have several translations depending on the situation.


There are hardly any rules as to when to use which preposition. The only way to learn prepositions is looking them up in a dictionary, reading a lot in English (literature) and learning useful phrases off by heart (study tips).


The following table contains rules for some of the most frequently used prepositions in English:


Prepositions – Time

English Usage Example


days of the week

on Monday


months / seasons

time of day


after a certain period of time (when?)

in August / in winter

in the morning

in 2006

in an hour


for night

for weekend

a certain point of time (when?)

at night

at the weekend

at half past nine


from a certain point of time (past till now)

since 1980


over a certain period of time (past till now)

for 2 years


a certain time in the past

2 years ago


earlier than a certain point of time

before 2004


telling the time

ten to six (5:50)


telling the time

ten past six (6:10)

to / till / until

marking the beginning and end of a period of time

from Monday to/till Friday

till / until

in the sense of how long something is going to last

He is on holiday until Friday.


in the sense of at the latest

up to a certain time

I will be back by 6 o’clock.

By 11 o'clock, I had read five pages.



Prepositions – Place (Position and Direction)

English Usage Example


room, building, street, town, country

book, paper etc.

car, taxi

picture, world

in the kitchen, in London

in the book

in the car, in a taxi

in the picture, in the world


meaning next to, by an object

for table

for events

place where you are to do something typical (watch a film, study, work)

at the door, at the station

at the table

at a concert, at the party

at the cinema, at school, at work



for a place with a river

being on a surface

for a certain side (left, right)

for a floor in a house

for public transport

for television, radio

the picture on the wall

London lies on the Thames.

on the table

on the left

on the first floor

on the bus, on a plane

on TV, on the radio

by, next to, beside

left or right of somebody or something

Jane is standing by / next to / beside the car.


on the ground, lower than (or covered by) something else

the bag is under the table


lower than something else but above ground

the fish are below the surface


covered by something else

meaning more than

getting to the other side (also across)

overcoming an obstacle

put a jacket over your shirt

over 16 years of age

walk over the bridge

climb over the wall


higher than something else, but not directly over it

a path above the lake


getting to the other side (also over)

getting to the other side

walk across the bridge

swim across the lake


something with limits on top, bottom and the sides

drive through the tunnel


movement to person or building

movement to a place or country

for bed

go to the cinema

go to London / Ireland

go to bed


enter a room / a building

go into the kitchen / the house


movement in the direction of something (but not directly to it)

go 5 steps towards the house


movement to the top of something

jump onto the table


in the sense of where from

a flower from the garden

Other important Prepositions

English Usage Example


who gave it

a present from Jane


who/what does it belong to

what does it show

a page of the book

the picture of a palace


who made it

a book by Mark Twain


walking or riding on horseback

entering a public transport vehicle

on foot, on horseback

get on the bus


entering a car / Taxi

get in the car


leaving a public transport vehicle

get off the train

out of

leaving a car / Taxi

get out of the taxi


rise or fall of something

travelling (other than walking or horseriding)

prices have risen by 10 percent

by car, by bus


for age

she learned Russian at 45


for topics, meaning what about

we were talking about you