Listen to this lesson (English audio, MP3)
They are only small in most cases but we would be lost without them! I am referring of course to prepositions and as you can see I've already used four of them - and there goes number five. Literally they are words that go before other words, usually nouns. The problem is deciding which one to use and which one not to use. To help show how some of them are used I have written this short story. As with all new words it is always best to try to remember them in phrases like: by the sea/outside the house/by car/at the table and so on. Hope you enjoy the story:
Our learner was in a terrible state. He knew he wanted to go somewhere but he didn't know how. At this moment he was standing near a bridge. Should he go by bus, by train, by car, by boat or possibly quite simply on foot? He could walk across the bridge, under the bridge but he couldn't possibly jump over the bridge. He just knew he wanted to get out of town. Once he had arrived there by car he could obviously get out of the car or the train or the bus but he'd have to get off the boat. And now he had arrived in the town centre and was sitting inside the tourist office looking out of the window. Well, he couldn't actually see through the window because the glass was very dirty. He left the tourist office and stood outside for a few minutes thinking what to do next. He saw a policeman coming towards him and he thought he'd ask him where to go.
But the policeman walked past him and went along the street taking no notice of him. Anyhow when he thought about it, what could a police officer do for him? The trouble was that he didn't speak the language although he had learnt a few phrases by heart. He knew how to say: On what day is there a festival? At what time do the shops shut? Can I put my bike against the wall? None of these questions would be of use to him. What he really wanted to know was: Where is there a hotel? He was on the point of giving up when he saw a wonderful hotel in front of him. He walked up to the reception and within minutes he was sitting in a beautiful bedroom that looked over the sea. He had a fabulous meal in the restaurant and then went back to his room. He got into bed and fell into a deep sleep. It was in the middle of the night that he suddenly realised he wouldn't have enough money to pay for the accommodation. He decided to continue with his sleep and when he woke up he got ready and went down to the restaurant for his breakfast. He didn't leave that hotel for three weeks. That was how long it took for him to pay for that overnight stay by working in the kitchen as a washer up.
If you have any English grammar or vocabulary questions,
please post them on this English Grammar Forum.