Rules of Prepositions in English Grammar with Examples

Understanding the rules of Prepositions is essential for candidates appearing for competitive exams. Almost all the Government exams such as Bank, SSC, RRB, Insurance, etc. have a separate section for the English Language, in both the objective as well as the descriptive paper.

Candidates must be well aware of Preposition rules to use different prepositions correctly in a sentence without making any grammatical errors in the exam. Being abreast with the rules for prepositions can help candidates score good marks in the examination, as well as improve their fluency in English.  

Prepositions in the English language indicate the relationship of a noun or pronoun to something. When using a preposition, it is necessary to have the subject and verb before it and should be followed by a noun. Never follow a preposition with a verb.  

With this information, let us gain familiarity with the important rules for prepositions discussed in detail in this article. 

Candidates preparing for competitive exams can check the given links for preparation:

Static GK Daily Current Affairs Free Online Mock Tests
SSC General Awareness Bank General Awareness Idioms & Phrases

Government Exam 2023

Rules Of Prepositions

A preposition is a word or a set of words that indicates the location or some other relation between a noun or a pronoun and other parts of the sentence. The rules of prepositions and their correct usage go as follows:

Preposition Rules – 1 – Preposition must have an object – a preposition is not a preposition unless it goes with a related noun or a pronoun that is the object of the preposition. A preposition is always with an object  – without an object, it is an adverb that never has an object. Lets us understand with examples – 

  • He is in the kitchen. (preposition ‘in’ has object the kitchen)
  • You may come in. (adverb ‘in’ has no object; it qualifies come)
  • There was a car before me. (preposition ‘before’ has object ‘me’)
  • Ram has never seen it before. (adverb ‘before’ has no object; it qualifies seen)
  • We will catch up after the gym. (preposition ‘after’ has object ‘gym’)
  • They called soon after. (adverb ‘after’ has no object; it qualifies ‘called’)

Preposition Rules – 2- Must be placed before – As the name says ‘Pre-Position’ – it comes before something. Generally, but not always, a preposition goes before a noun or a pronoun. Understand with examples –

  • I put the things in the box. (‘in’ is placed before the noun ‘’box’)

You do not end a sentence with a preposition is one of the undying myths of English Grammar because even when a preposition is not placed before its object, it is closely related to its object. For example – 

  • Whom did you talk to? (Preposition ‘to’ related to the pronoun ‘Whom’)

Preposition Rules – 3 – The Pronoun following the Preposition should be an object form. The noun or pronoun following a preposition forms a prepositional object. If a pronoun is following a preposition, it should be in the objective form ( me, her, them) and not the subjective form like (I, she, they, etc.). See the examples below-

  • The gift was from them. (preposition ‘from’ followed by the objective pronoun ‘them’)
  • The secret is between him and her. (preposition ‘between’ followed by the objective pronoun ‘him’)

Preposition Rules – 4 (A)- Avoid ‘like’ when a verb is involved. The preposition ‘like’ that means “similar to” should be followed by a noun, pronoun, noun phrase as an object of the preposition. A subject or a verb should not follow the preposition ‘like’. For example – 

  • Correct – She looks like her mother. (noun ‘mother’ is the object of the preposition ‘like’)
  • Incorrect – She looks like her mother does. (avoid ‘like’ with noun + verb)

4 (B) – When there is a comparison between a subject or verb, instead of like, use as, as if, as though, or ‘the way’. Taking the same sentence as an example –

  • Incorrect – She looks like her mother does.
  • Correct – She looks the way her mother does.

More examples– 

  • Incorrect  – Do like he asks.
  • Correct – Do as he asks.
  • Incorrect – She looks like she is angry.
  • Correct – She looks as if she is angry.

4(C) – Unless there is a verb involved, do not use ‘as’. ‘As’ means “in the same manner” so avoid using preposition ‘as’ if the verb is not involved. Check the examples – 

  • Incorrect: I, as most people, try to use good words in English.
  • Correct: I, as most people do, try to use good words in English. Or I, like most people, try to use good words in English.

Candidates can also check other articles on English topics that give clarity on basic concepts, rules, list and example sentences:

  1. Tenses rules
  2. Conjunctions rules
  3. Prepositions Rules
  4. Articles Rules
  5. Precis Writing Format

Candidates can check the General English for Competitive Exams page for more articles on rules of English grammar, list of idioms and phrases, synonyms & antonyms, etc.

Preposition Rules – 5 – Do not confuse preposition ‘to’ with infinitive ‘to’. ‘To’ is an infinitive participle (to sing, to dance, etc.) as well as a preposition too like (to me, to Moscow, etc.). Understand the difference between the two with the help of examples –

‘To’ as a preposition-

  • I am used to swimming.
  • I look forward to seeing you. (not ‘see you’)

‘To’ as an infinitive participle –

  • I used to live in Australia.
  • They love to dance.

Preposition Rules – 6 – Some words that look like verbs follow the preposition ‘to’. A Verb cannot be an object of a preposition. This rule of preposition may seem confusing, so let us understand with examples – 

  • I like to swim.
  • These goggles are for swimming.

In these examples, “swim” and “swimming” are not acting as verbs.

In the first example, to swim is part of the infinitive that occurs when a verb is used as a noun, adverb or an adjective. Here, to swim is a thing that the person likes doing, not an action that is being performed. 

In the second example, swimming is a gerund which is a noun though it is formed out of a verb. Here, swimming is a thing to which goggles are related. No one in this sentence is performing the act of swimming.

Preposition Rules – 7 – Do not confuse preposition ‘In’ and ‘Into’. This rule of preposition says, use “into” to express motion toward something and reserve the preposition “in” when you want to indicate a location. See the example for clarity –

  • I swam in the pool. (Indicating location)
  • Look in the almirah. (Indicating location)
  • The cat jumped into the well. (Expressing motion)
  • He drove into the city. (Expressing motion)

To ace the verbal ability section of any competitive exam, it is important to have a clear conceptual knowledge of relevant English topics covered in the syllabus. Hence, for candidates assistance, given below is a detailed video explanation on the Preposition rules in English grammar, their usage and application. Candidates can go through the video on Preposition rules to understand the rules given in this article in an effective way –

Candidates can also check the links given below to understand the concept of word formation in English and to learn the common words in the English Language asked in most of the competitive exams-

  1. English Root Words
  2. Most asked English Vocabulary Words

Candidates preparing for any government exam must know that English forms an important part of the syllabus of most of the examinations, hence rigorous practise of various topics is important. Candidates can go through important questions and answers on various English topics given below:

English Question Answers on various topics that are frequently asked in the English section of various competitive exams are given in the Verbal Ability page linked here.

Candidates preparing for the various government exams can refer to the detailed syllabus in the links given below:

Bank Exam Syllabus SSC Syllabus RRB Syllabus
LIC Syllabus UPSC Syllabus UPSC CAPF Syllabus

Prepositions Sample Questions For English Section

Before understanding the important rules of prepositions, it is important to know the types of questions asked in the examination, which makes it necessary to have knowledge of prepositions. 

Given below is a sample question asked in the English section of competitive exams for prepositions:

Direction (1-5) Read the paragraph given below and choose the correct option for the blanks from the options given for each question.

Renewable energy resources prevail ——-(1) wide geographical areas, in contrast to other energy sources, which are concentrated in a limited number of countries. Rapid deployment ——–(2) renewable energy and energy efficiency is resulting in significant energy security, climate change mitigation and economic benefits. The results of a recent review of the literature deduced that as greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters begin to be held liable for damages resulting ——– (3) GHG emissions in climate change, a high value for liability mitigation would provide powerful incentives for deployment of renewable energy technologies. In international public opinion surveys, there is strong support for promoting renewable sources such as solar power and wind power. At the national level, at least 30 nations ——–(4) the world already has renewable energy contributing more than 20 per cent of energy supply. National renewable energy markets are projected to continue to grow strongly in the coming decade and ——–(5).


  1. In
  2. Over
  3. Across

Answer (2) Over


  1. At
  2. On
  3. Of

Answer (3) Of


  1. From
  2. By
  3. After

Answer (1) From


  1. In
  2. Around
  3. Across

Answer (2) Around


  1. After
  2. More
  3. Beyond

Answer (3) Beyond

Apart from the samples given above, questions on error spotting and rearranging the sentences also form an important part of prepositions. Candidates can check more Preposition Questions and Answers on the linked page for practise and revision of the topic. 

Video – Prepositions Rules in the English Language – Part 2

The video on Preposition rules has more parts, candidates can access the other parts by visiting the video link.

Candidates preparing for the upcoming government exams must carefully go through the concept of rules of prepositions, as candidates tend to score the least in the English Language section. Also, check Previous Year Question Papers with solution PDF to understand the types of questions asked in the English Language section of these examinations.

Knowing about prepositions rules is imperative for questions like Reading Comprehension, Essay/Letter Writing, Precis Writing, etc. Moreover, to fetch good scores in the reading comprehension or essay letter writing, the basic concepts and differences between common and confusing words should be crystal clear. Hence, you can check a few links given below for assistance:

Difference Between Besides and Beside Difference Between Center and Centre
Difference Between Yolk and Yoke Difference between Rain, Reign and Rein

More such differences based on concepts, topics, subjects, etc are given on the 100 difference Between Article for revision for the candidates.

Aspirants of government exams can check other topics relevant from the exam point of view:

Unemployment In India Famous Books and Authors
Millets In India Letter Writing Format
Principles of Insurance Tenses Rules
List of Country, Capital & Currency Functions Of Bank

For further questions or information regarding the competitive exams, check the following links:

SSC Exams RRB Exams
UPSC CAPF Insurance exam

Online Quiz 2023


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