Tuesday, December 15, 2009



Prepositions are those little words that show us the relationship between nouns or noun substitutes. They come in two varieties, simple and complex, and they are always followed by a noun. The result is what's called a prepositional phrase.

- The ogre hid out under the bridge.
- Beneath the lily pad, the frog waited for a princess to kiss him.
- For richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health...

The most common simple prepositions are:

about, above, across, after, against, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, by, during, except, for, from, in, inside, into, near, of, off, on, since, through, to, toward, under, until, up, upon, with, within, without.

Complex prepositions combine two or three words to act as one preposition: according to, insofar as, instead of, along with. All you have to remember is that they, too, require a subject.

- Many card games are played according to Holye.
- Instead of the typical response, Jeremy chose to answer in Spanish.
- Tonight's performance is cancelled due to illness.

While prepositions aren't one of the major migraines in English, they do present a few issues. For little words, they can be misused in a big way. A few of the most obvious victims are in/at, from/then, among/between, and in/into.

*In or at? Use in with spaces (in the universe, in the bath, in a row, in a field of study). Use at with places (at the resort, at the top of the page, at the back of the room). Therefore,

- Although I sat at the front of the classroom in college, I was still bad in math.

*From or than? This one is easy. It should always be different from. The commonly heard different than is incorrect, (than isn't a preposition, it's a conjunction). Therefore,

- Even more than I thought, rugby is different from baseball.

*Among or between? Usually, among is used when more than two parties or things are involved. Between is preferred when there are only two.

- Smaller prizes were divided among the participants, while the big money was split between the two winners.

However, from its earliest usage, between has been extended to more than two, for instance,

- There were varying positions on the treaty between Timbuktu, Tasmania and Turkey.

In common usage, either among or between is correct. Just listen for the sense of the sentence.

*In or into? In many instances, either one is correct, or the correct choice is obvious. Into implies an action, while in most often describes a condition. For instance,

- Lassie jumped in/into the lake to save Timmy from the alligator.
- While skiing in Switzerland, I fell into/in a snow bank.

Source: The Gremlins of Grammar


  1. Those are good!
    You always break it down into realistic terms, Crystal!

  2. All good information to refresh on now and then, especially the in & at, from & than, among & between. I love your tutorials!

  3. Excellent tutorial, got it saved as usual. (wink) Hey I got a tutorial of my own up on my blog also - must be going around, lol.

    Marvin D Wilson

  4. Great tips. You always have such useful information. Thanks.

  5. Thanks for this! Bookmarking it for easy reference.



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