Richard-Business Eng
Professional Teacher
Learning prepositions, in any language, can be quite challenging... true or not?
But here's a bit of good news; there's really only one critical rule to remember:
"A preposition must always be followed by a noun or pronoun in a sentence. The noun or pronoun is the object of the proposition.
A verb cannot be an object, therefore prepositions are never followed by a verb."

One simple rule
Because prepositions must be followed by a noun and have an object, they usually shouldn't be used at the end of a sentence. For example, it is not correct to say:

The table is where I put my books on. 

However, there are certain circumstances where it is acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition.
In these cases, the proposition needs to be there, and if it wasn't, the meaning of the sentence would change.

In the above example, "The table is where I put my books on" the use of the preposition on isn't necessary.
We could take the on out of the sentence and the meaning would be the same.
So, the use of the proposition was extraneous or unnecessary and we don't need it. 

However, here is an example where it is perfectly acceptable to use a preposition to end a sentence:
"I turned the TV on."
If we left out the on the sentence would have a different meaning "I turned the TV."

A couple more simple basic rules, if you're interested:

How can we learn which prepositions we should use?
1  There are many excellent ESL websites that define the use of many of the prepositions
2  Seeing and hearing prepositions used in sentences may be the most effective way of learning prepositions.

Learning method 2 is the way we learn our native languages, so would it be helpful to see how prepositions are used in sentences?
Let's see if that's true...

This place is for exhibitions and shows.
I baked a cake for your birthday.
I put a note on the door for privacy.
She has been studying hard for the final exam.
We need new batteries for the remote control.
These drinks are for after work.
We use it for cutting grass.
Did someone call for a taxi?
He hopes for a raise in salary next year.
I'm looking for my keys.
We'll wait for her here. 
I am so happy for you.
We feel deeply sorry for your loss.
For this reason, I’ve decided to quit this job.
He’s been famous for many decades.
I attended the university for one year only.
This is all I have for today.
I've been studying English for a long time.
This is for you.
Do you want to go for a walk?
You use a corkscrew for opening bottles.
Cigarettes are bad for you.
I’m saving for a new car.
They passed me over for John.
Is this the train for Cambridge?
I bought it for $10.
We worked for three hours.
Keep walking for two kilometres.


Have you discovered a good way to learn the English prepositions?

Do you have any advice for those who are learning prepositions?
Jun 6, 2018 2:43 PM
Comments · 6
Ali... Please don't worry... no offence taken. Actually, I enjoyed your little birthday story. 
June 6, 2018


You suggested that reading helps us learn the way prepositions are used and I agree completely.

In fact, reading (plus listening) is one of the ways we learn our native languages.
That's why I have tried to show a number of examples of the preposition for used in sentences.

June 6, 2018



I like this chair I'm sitting on:

"However, here is an example where it is perfectly acceptable to use a preposition to end a sentence:
'I turned the TV on.'
If we left out the on the sentence would have a different meaning 'I turned the TV.'"

The other examples are simply phrasal verbs that are not followed by an object.
If I had intended to explain all the rules/conventions around prepositions, this discussion would have been much longer.
June 6, 2018

The birthday will be very happy if somebody is finally baking a cake for it. All the years it had to see birthday children getting cakes. Only it, the poor birthday, got … nothing! :-) I couldn't help joking a little bit. You will not feel offended, will you, Richard?

Very useful explanation again. Thank you, Richard.

June 6, 2018

Hello Richard

I think there are many good ways to learn English prepositions. It is easy to learn. However it is very hard to remember all them and to use when you need them. Especially it is difficult for people who do not have prepositions in their native languages.

I think reading may be very useful in this case. Do you agree with me?

June 6, 2018
Show more