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How to Distinguish Between Prepositions of Place and Time

May 19, 2008
Prepositions are words used in the English language to connect words or phrases in a sentence. There are two main types of prepositions - time and place. Each one fulfills a specific task. Prepositions of time tell when something happened, while prepositions of place indicate a location. In order to fully understand the differences between each of the prepositions, you do need to work with examples of each one, looking at their placement in a sentence and their relationship to the rest of the words.

Read the following sentence:

"The book was beside the bed."

In this sentence, the preposition is beside and it denotes place because it tells where the book was. There is a list of prepositions that you can memorize or become really familiar with so that you know how to find them in a sentence or use them in your own speaking and writing. Prepositions that denote place are:

* Above
* Across
* Around
* Aboard
* Against
* At
* At the back of
* At the bottom of
* At the top of
* Between
* Behind
* Below
* By
* In
* Inside
* At the corner of
* In the middle of
* Near
* Next to
* To the left of
* To the right of
* On
* On the side of
* On top of
* On the other side of
* Opposite
* Outside
* Under
* Underneath

When you use a place preposition in a sentence, you place it before a noun or pronoun. It never goes next to a verb.

Look at the list of prepositions. You will see that all of these words designate a particular place. Try putting each word in a sentence to make sure you know how to use them correctly. For example, you could write "The book was beside the lamp on the other side of the room". Thus, you see that you can use more than one preposition in a sentence.

Some of the words used as place prepositions can also be used as prepositions of time, such as before, after, around and between. When determining what type of preposition is used in a sentence, you do have to look at the words around it and comprehend the meaning of the sentence as a whole. You should never just pick out the preposition without reading and understanding the sentence. In this sentence "We will be there before two o'clock", you know that the preposition is before. Now look at the whole sentence and determine what it means. Does it tell where something is located? No. Does it tell when someone will be arriving? Yes. Therefore it denotes time.
About the Author
Learn more about prepositions of place and time by visiting www.1-language.com, the free online English course.
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