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1.6: Prepositions

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    70166
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    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\)

    Prepositions are relation words; they can indicate location, time, or other more abstract relationships. Prepositions are noted in bold in these examples:

    • The woods behind my house are super creepy at night.
    • She sang until three in the morning.
    • He was happy for them.

    A preposition combines with another word (usually a noun or pronoun) called the complement. Prepositions are still in bold, and their complements are in italics:

    • The woods behind my house are super creepy at night.
    • She sang until three in the morning.
    • He was happy for them.

    Prepositions generally come before their complements (e.g., in England, under the table, of Jane). However, there are a small handful of exceptions, including notwithstanding and ago:

    • Financial limitations notwithstanding, Phil paid back his debts.
    • He was released three days ago.

    Prepositions of location are pretty easily defined (near, far, over, under, etc.), and prepositions about time are as well (before, after, at, during, etc.). Prepositions of “more abstract relationships,” however, are a little more nebulous in their definition.

    So far, all of the prepositions we’ve looked at have been one word (and most of them have been one syllable). The most common prepositions are one-syllable words. According to one ranking, the most common English prepositions are on, in, to, by, for, with, at, of, from, as.

    There are also some prepositions that have more than one word:

    • in spite of (She made it to work in spite of the terrible traffic.)
    • by means of (He traveled by means of boat.)
    • except for (Joan invited everyone to her party except for Ben.)
    • next to (Go ahead and sit down next to Jean-Claude.)

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