Learning English can be so much fun, but those pesky little prepositions are often very tricky. They may be small and seem like no big deal to look at, but they can get on your nerves, get you into trouble and can mean the difference between: going with your friend for lunch or having your friend for lunch! Yuck!

Prepositions are little words (or groups of words) that keep nouns, pronouns and other words in the sentence organised, by showing the relationship between them.  Knowing the right prepositions to use, can save your life! Really, it can. One wrong move and you could be placing your feet on the table and your food under it! Or they could have you stepping into the traffic, instead of stopping before it.

What if you are from London and want your friends to meet you in Thailand.  Imagine that instead you tell them you are in London and are from Thailand? They could end up booking their train to London while you are flying across the Arabian Sea!  Getting prepositions exactly right may seem unimportant until your friends are in London waiting for you and you are on a beach drinking margaritas alone without them!  

But don’t  fear - we have your back. Here are a few examples to help you navigate safely between them. Prepositions can be broken down into simple and complex prepositions:

Simple prepositions are made up of single words that include: across, after, at, before, between, by, during, from, in, into, on, to, under, with and without. Using them correctly can save you a lot of frustration and embarrassing miscommunication.

Some prepositions will tell you where things, places and people are, or were: Imagine you have friends round for dinner.  The cat is under the table, and you tell them your boyfriend is going with you to Paris before putting a ring on your finger.  - Woohoo! Then imagine getting those wrong! You could shock your guests with the cat on the table, have your boyfriend going to Paris without you, after putting a ring in your finger. - Boohoo! Time to go to A&E.

Some prepositions are great for giving directions!  When you are explaining to a friend how to get to your house, the wrong use of ‘before’ or ‘across’ could mean that instead of them turning left before the supermarket and finding your home across from the park, they might look for you across from the supermarket and before the park and therefore find themselves at the dentist's instead! Let's face it, they won't thank you for that. 

Compound prepositions consist of more than one word and include examples such as in between, because of, in front of and on behalf of.  ‘I am in front of the ice-cream shop’, will make sure your friend finds you. ‘I want that ice-cream in between the vanilla and the chocolate’, will make sure you don’t get stuck with a flavour you don’t like.

So there you have it. Easy! They may be small, and a little confusing, but prepositions will make sure you are always in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, and they'll keep you in good English-speaking shape and out of danger!



 More on prepositions