• Daniel Bullock

Grammar Rules for Prepositions of Place

Updated: Feb 17

how do we use prepostions of place? in, on, at
While we can say "in" the woods, we can not say "on" the woods!

Prepositions are very important in the English language. They help explain nouns, as well as link them to other parts of a sentence. Prepositions, however, can be found in other forms, including prepositions of place. These words are incredibly useful and govern the specifics of nouns as they relate to locations. Prepositions of place are used to describe where someone, or something, is located. There are only a few words that are considered prepositions of place, and their uses and the grammar rules that surround them aren’t too complicated once you get know them.

Preparations of place are great ways of simply describing new things/events and are perfect tools for taking advantage of the English language!

What are Prepositions of Place?

Prepositions of place are words that come before nouns and help readers and listeners identify where something is. These prepositions of place are, ‘at,’ ‘in,’ and, ‘on.’ Some people will say that there are more and include words like, ‘above,’ and, ‘behind.’ While those words can also be used for the same purposes as the three main prepositions, they are not widely regarded as prepositions themselves. The three primary prepositions are constantly used to mark places, even though you might not notice them. For example, “Alice got in her car.”

using prepostion in, the car, grammar help
Alice got "in" her car, not at!

In fact, if you’re ever wondering if a preposition phrase belongs in a sentence, or if the word you are using is a preposition of place, you can simply think about your sentence in terms of location. For the example above, that might mean thinking like this; “Where is Alice? In her car.” The answer to the question has a preposition proceeding it, and that word is identifying a noun. “Her car.”

Prepositions of place don’t always have to come immediately before a noun. The previous example is a good illustration of that. “Her,” comes before the defining noun of the sentence, “car.” Indeed, whenever you are describing the factors of something’s location, the chances are that you’re using a preposition of place. “The backpack is on the counter.” “He lives in London.”

Prepositions of place are very common in the English language, and many people who use them daily don’t understand what they are or how they work. This is because prepositions of place adhere to standard grammar rules, which means that they are easy to use even for people who don’t know what they are. Learning them, though, gives you an advantage, especially when it comes to writing more complex sentences. This is even more important when you are learning English as a second language. The natural, obvious customs apparent to native speakers of English are not always simple or easy for others to grasp.

Grammar Rules for Prepositions

There are many different types of prepositions that can be used in the English language. The good news is that most of them are similar. For instance, the prepositions of location and of place use the same three words (again, some will say that “inside” is a preposition while others will not). Prepositions of place always come before the nouns of which they are defining. They are not interchangeable, either. A person can be in a car but not in Mount Everest.

The grammar rules surrounding prepositions of place get a little more complicated as you get more specific. If you wanted to say, “The book is below the top shelf,” instead of, “the book is on the shelf,” “below,” would be the preposition of place. Using more complex words to refer to locations is not necessary, but it can add more power to a sentence. As you can see in the example, though, the two sentences are very similar and still accomplish the same goal of identifying the placement of a book.

When it comes to getting more specific with prepositions of place and the grammar rules that surround them, you can make your own decisions about which prepositions you want to use in most cases.

Example Sentences: Prepositions of Place

To better explain prepositions, let’s go through a few examples. These examples are similar to the ones used above, but they’ll focus on the three prepositions of place that you’re most likely to use. Make sure to pay attention to how each of the three words can be used.

Marco sat in the movie theater.

which preposition to use? in the theater
Marco sat "in" the cinema, not "on"!

Remember the trick mentioned above. If you think about the sentence in terms of location and identify the nouns, you’ll be able to spot prepositions of place with ease. Where is Marco? In the theater.

I am sitting on the curb.

Prepositions of place can (and should!) also be used in sentences about you. And remember that the preposition comes before the noun.

She is at the mall.

This is a sentence where you could add a more complex preposition if you wanted to do so. Instead of, “at the mall,” you could say, “inside the mall.”

prepostions of place list, grammar lesson
She is at the mall - or she is in the mall

These are the three words that you’ll have to master when it comes to using prepositions of place. Fortunately, the grammar rules surrounding them are simple and you can easily become an expert with practice and dedication!

The three words that you will need to master




Final Facts

Prepositions have been around for a long time. In fact, the first person widely regarded as speaking about them was Dionysius Thrax, who lived more than two thousand years ago in Alexandria. They help modify nouns and are very useful in the English language. In the case of prepositions of place, they can be used to gain a better understanding of things and locations.

Prepositions of place might seem confusing or hard to understand, but they aren’t too bad with a little practice. Much of their use can be explained with logic, and while they can get more complicated, they can also be simple. As long as you remember what they are, you’ll have no problem integrating them into your words; both written and spoken.