Prepositions of place and position

Prepositions of place and position

1. at, in, on, against

We use the prepositions at, in, on and against differently in these ways:

a)  At – to show the exact location of a person or thing, or a particular point.

Example:      

Joe is at the back of the bus. (exact location)

The writer’s signature is at the bottom of the page.

(at a particular point)

 

b) In –to point to an enclosed area or something which has volume.

Example:      

There’s a crack in the mirror.  (enclosed area)

There are a lot of beautiful illustrations in this book.       (volume)

 

c)   On – to show that a person or thing is in a higher position than something and is touching or covering its surface.

Example:      

The acrobat is standing on the tightrope.

(touching the surface)

The chairman report is on page 5

(covering the surface)

 

d) Against – to someone or something is next to and touching the surface of something or being supported by it.

Example:      

I prefer to have my desk against the wall.

(next to and touching the wall)

John is leaning against hi car.

(being supported by the car)

 

2. before, after, on the left/right, to the left/right.

We use before and after to show which person or thing is closer to us and is further from us.

We use to the left and to the right to show on which side of a person or thing another person or thing is:

Example:      

The railway station is before the public library.

The public library is after the railway station.

The railway station is to the left of the public library.

The post office is to the right of the public library.

NOTE:     if we are standing in front of the public library and facing the road, we would describe the position of the railway station and the post office in this way:

The railway station is on my right.

The post office is on my left.

 

3. Across, along, opposite

We use the prepositions across, along, and opposite in these ways:

a)  Across – To point to the other side of a line or space.

Example:       Helen lives across the road from me.

b) Along – To point to someone or something located next to a space which has a long thin shape. For example a road or a river.

Example:       Larry lives along Smith Street.

c)   Opposite – To point to someone or something directly facing a person or a space

Example:       Kim sat opposite John during dinner.

(the table is between them)

Jenny’s favourite bakery is opposite a toy shop.

(the road is between the two shops)

 

Remember:

In the expression the opposite of, the opposite is a noun, not a preposition. The opposite of is used to show that someone or something is very different from the person or thing compared with.

Example:

David is the opposite of James. James likes to be with people but David prefers to be by himself.

The word ‘happy’ is the opposite of ‘sad’.

Remember:

The preposition before can also be used to mean in front of.

Example:

The little boy stood before his parent’s guests and sang confidently.

 

4. inside, outside

We use inside and outside to show that a person or thing is in an enclosed area or in something which has volume.

We use outside to show the person or thing is not inside something. When we use inside and outside, we do not use the preposition of after them.

Example:

The children are inside the car.

The workmen are standing outside the construction site.

 

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