Definition: Prepositions shows the relation between a word and a noun that follows it.
**Note: (a) Prepositions may also govern other parts of speech used on how as Nouns. From here, before now, for good, in short, about to go.
(b) Prepositions may govern phrases and clauses as well: it depends on how you do your duty. I will go to where you have come from. I am ignorant of how to do it.
Prepositions sometimes follow the words they govern when the object is an interrogative or a relative pronoun understood; particularly the relative that is never governed by a Preposition preceding it:
What is this for? Where do you come from? This is the boy that I spoke of. This is the boy (whom) I spoke to.
There are six different classes of Prepositions:
(i) Simple Preposition: At, by, with, on, in, of, for, form, through, after, under, etc.
(ii) Double Prepositions: Sometimes two simple Prepositions are united to express the sense Preposition: He came from behind the wall. A voice came from within my heart.
(iii) Compound Prepositions are formed by prefixing a preposition, generally be (=by) and a (=on), to a noun, an adjective or an adverb: Across (=on + cross), along (=on + long), before (=by + fore), between (=by + twain), beside (=by + side), within (=with + in), below (=by + low), etc.
(iv) Phrase Prepositions or Preposition Phrases are made up of two or more words which are constantly used together with the force of a single preposition.
Examples: As—on account of, instead of, in order to, in spite of, by means of, owing to, by dint of, in accordance with, etc.
**Note: Some grammarians regards Compound prepositions and preposition phrases as the same. They ignore the compound composition of the class of preposition shown is (iii) above.
(v) Participle Prepositions are present or past participles which are now used as prepositions: Do you anything concerning or regarding the proposal? The river flows past the town.
(vi) Disguised Prepositions: In examples like ‘He comes twice a week’ etc. a is not the indefinite Articles, but a weakened form of the preposition on, so also in ahead, asleep, ahunting, etc.
Other Parts of Speech used as Prepositions:
(a) Noun—Despite his illness he went to the meeting.
(b) Adjective—I have never seen a man like him. He sits near or next me in the class.
(c) Verb or participle—it is half past three now.
(d) Conjunction—We elected your son than whom no better man was available.
**Note: Than—The word is normally a conjunction, following a comparative degree. But it is also used as a preposition in some cases, particularly before relative and personal pronouns, as in above example.
Also: He is better than me in every respect. No one other than him was present there. He did nothing else than (to) laugh. No one other than a graduate need apply.
Distinction between Adverbs and Prepositions:
The same words are used sometimes as Adverbs and sometimes as Prepositions. They are to be distinguished according to the manner in which they are used. Prepositions always govern some nouns or noun equivalents. Adverbs are never added to nouns or noun equivalents, but modify other parts of speech. He went on (Adverb). Sit on the bench (Preposition). Sit down (Adverb). The boat goes down the river (Preposition).
Meaning and Uses of Certain Prepositions:
(a) Concerning—I know nothing about the matter.
(b) Around—He wrapped the thread about his finger.
(c) Close to, nearly—it is about 3 o’clock. He is about to die.
(d) Engaged in—What are you about?
(a) Higher in place—He is above me in the class.
(b) More than—The cost is above thirty dollar.
(c) Superior to—He is above meanness.
(a) Opposed to—This goes against you. He complained against me.
(b) Provision for—Provide against the rainy day.
(a) Behind in place or time—He came after me or the appointed time.
(b) In search, or pursuit of—They ran after the thief. He hankers after wealth.
(c) In imitation or in accordance with—He is a man after (suited to) my liking. He is named after his father.
(d) Notwithstanding—After all, he is a clever boy.
(a) Place—He lives at New York.
(b) Time—He came at 5 o’clock.
(c) Value—The house is priced at dollar 50000/-.
(d) Degree—The train runs at a high speed.
(e) Occupation—He is at work.
(f) Direction—The dog ran at me.
(g) Consequence—You will do it at your peril.
(a) In front of—He stood before me.
(b) Priority of time—He will come before this.
(c) Priority of choice—Death before dishonor.
(a) At the back of—He sat behind me.
(b) Lateness in time or place—You are behind time or the class.
(a) By the side of—He stood beside me.
(b) Out of—He is beside himself with joy.
(a) Nearness in place or time—Sit by me. He will come by noon.
(b) Agency—The work was done by me.
(c) According to—it is ten o’clock by my match.
(d) Measure—I caught him by the leg. Pay me by installments.
(e) Measure—Cloth is sold by the yard. He is taller by four inches.
(f) Appeal—I swear by God.
(a) In the place of—He acted for my brother.
(b) In exchange for—I brought it for 50 dollar.
(c) In favour of—I will vote for you.
(d) On account of—He did it for love of me. I am sorry for you.
(e) For the purpose of—He gasped for his breath.
(f) In point of—He is intelligent for his age. He is brave for a boy.
(g) In the direction of—He left for London.
(h) In spite of— For all his wealth, he is unhappy.
(i) During—I have known him for three years.
(a) Starting point, origin, cause—He comes from home. He acted from a wicked motive. He died from the injury.
(b) Separation, distinction—I do not know him from his brother.
(a) Place—He lives in London.
(b) Time—He will come in an hour.
(c) State—He is in danger. He died in poverty.
(d) Points of reference—He is firm in his opinions.
(a) Proceeding from origin, cause—He comes of a noble family. He died of fever.
(b) Possession—This is the house of Messi.
(c) Material—This is chain of gold.
(d) Apposition—He lives in the city of London.
(e) About—I do not know anything of it.
(f) Separation—He is devoid of intelligence.
On, Upon means:
(a) Contract—Dhaka stands on Buriganga. Sit on the bench.
(b) Time—Come on Monday. He was born on that day.
(c) Dependence, in consequence with—He acted upon my advice.
(d) Just after, in consequence—On hearing this, they all fled.
(e) Because of—He congratulated me on my success.
(f) Concerning—He has written a book on politics.
(a) Above—The sun over the earth.
(b) More than—He is over 30 years old.
(c) On the other side of—He lives over the way.
(a) Across the interior of anything—He passed through the wood. I saw through his design.
(b) Cause—He gained the prize through industry.
(a) Direction towards—He is gone to Manchester.
(b) Adaptation—It does not stand to reason.
(c) Comparison—As three is to nine, so is four to twelve.
(d) Purpose—I went to see him.
(e) Degree limit—They were killed to a man.
(f) Result—Water has turned to ice. He was crushed to death.
(a) Less than—The price is under ten dollar.
(b) In subordination to, subject to—The volunteers are under me. The case is under trial.
(c) Below—He stood under the tree.
(d) Represented by—He travelled under a disguise.
(a) Accompanied by—I went there with my father.
(b) Point of reference—He is popular with the people. He was found with me. Down with him. I differ with you.
(c) Instrument—He did it with his own hand.
(d) In spite of—With all his faults, I love him.