A preposition is a word that shows a relationship – such as direction, location, or time – between a noun and another word. Prepositions can also be adverbs or conjunctions.
Children understand and use the most frequently occurring prepositions from an early age. Some prepositions, such as in, to, up, and at, are taught in kindergarten as high-frequency words. More prepositions are introduced as vocabulary words in Grades 1 and 2; however, prepositions are not taught as grammar until Grade 3.
In Grades 3 and 4, students learn that a preposition is the first word in a prepositional phrase, and that prepositional phrases end with a noun or pronoun. For example, students should be able to identify the prepositional phrases in these sentences: “We bought a cake with chocolate frosting,” and “The bus stops near the library.” Students learn that all the words in a prepositional phrase work together to act like an adjective (in the first example sentence) or an adverb (in the second example sentence). Examples at these grade levels include prepositional phrases which come at the end of a sentence.
By Grade 5, students should be able to identify and understand the functionality of prepositional phrases within sentences, such as “The boy with the red hair is my brother.” The prepositional phrase in this sentence functions as an adjective because it describes what the boy looks like.
Common Core State Standards Related to Prepositions
Use the most frequently occurring prepositions (e.g., to, from, in, out, on, off, for, of, by, with).
Use frequently occurring prepositions (e.g., during, beyond, toward).
Form and use prepositional phrases.
Explain the function of conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections in general and their function in particular sentences.
Prepositions 2: on, onto, out, outside, over, to, toward, underneath, up, within
Prepositions 3: after, before, during, following, since, until, past
Prepositions 4: about, by, along, among, around, between, concerning, except, for, from, without
VocabularySpellingCity.com provides word lists, printables, and interactive games and activities that give students the opportunity to identify and use prepositions and to form and use prepositional phrases.
Try Sentence Unscramble with the Prepositions 1 list.