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English Preposition Rule

There is one very simple rule about prepositions. And, unlike most rules, this rule has no exceptions.

Rule
A preposition is followed by a "noun". It is never followed by a verb.

By "noun" we include:

  • noun (dog, money, love)
  • proper noun (name) (Bangkok, Mary)
  • pronoun (you, him, us)
  • noun group (my first job)
  • gerund (swimming)

A preposition cannot be followed by a verb. If we want to follow a preposition by a verb, we must use the "-ing" form which is really a gerund or verb in noun form.

Quick Quiz: In the following sentences, why is "to" followed by a verb? That should be impossible, according to the above rule:

  • I would like to go now.
  • She used to smoke.

Here are some examples:

Subject + verb preposition "noun"
The food is on the table.
She lives in Japan.
Tara is looking for you.
The letter is under your blue book.
Pascal is used to English people.
She isn't used to working.
I ate before coming.

Answer to Quick Quiz: In these sentences, "to" is not a preposition. It is part of the infinitive ("to go", "to smoke").

English Prepositions Listed
For a full list of 150 prepositions, including one-word and complex prepositions, with 370 example sentences, download the free EnglishClub e-book English Prepositions Listed.

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