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[prep-uh-zish-uh n] /ˌprɛp əˈzɪʃ ən/
noun, Grammar.
any member of a class of words found in many languages that are used before nouns, pronouns, or other substantives to form phrases functioning as modifiers of verbs, nouns, or adjectives, and that typically express a spatial, temporal, or other relationship, as in, on, by, to, since.
Origin of preposition1
1350-1400; Middle English preposicioun < Latin praepositiōn- (stem of praepositiō) a putting before, a prefix, preposition. See pre-, position
Related forms
prepositional, adjective
prepositionally, adverb
nonprepositional, adjective
nonprepositionally, adverb
quasi-prepositional, adjective
quasi-prepositionally, adverb
Can be confused
preposition, proposition.
Usage note
The often heard but misleading “rule” that a sentence should not end with a preposition is transferred from Latin, where it is an accurate description of practice. But English grammar is different from Latin grammar, and the rule does not fit English. In speech, the final preposition is normal and idiomatic, especially in questions: What are we waiting for? Where did he come from? You didn't tell me which floor you worked on. In writing, the problem of placing the preposition arises most when a sentence ends with a relative clause in which the relative pronoun (that; whom; which; whomever; whichever; whomsoever) is the object of a preposition. In edited writing, especially more formal writing, when a pronoun other than that introduces a final relative clause, the preposition usually precedes its object: He abandoned the project to which he had devoted his whole life. I finally telephoned the representative with whom I had been corresponding. If the pronoun is that, which cannot be preceded by a preposition, or if the pronoun is omitted, then the preposition must occur at the end: The librarian found the books that the child had scribbled in. There is the woman he spoke of. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for prepositional
Historical Examples
  • A prepositional phrase may be either adjective or adverbial.

  • They also admit of derogative and prepositional inflections.

    The Indian in his Wigwam Henry R. Schoolcraft
  • He went over, he went under, he went after—these sentences prove the forms to be as much adverbial as prepositional.

    The English Language Robert Gordon Latham
  • An adjective phrase is a prepositional phrase used as an adjective.

    Plain English Marian Wharton
  • Very often this lead may be handled by means of a prepositional phrase at the beginning.

  • In the first three paragraphs the prepositional phrases are printed in italics.

    Plain English Marian Wharton
  • Most adjective phrases are prepositional ( 42), as in the examples.

  • The prepositional construction give it to him,—to whom shall I give it?

    The English Language Robert Gordon Latham
  • The preposition, with its object and the modifiers of the object, forms a phrase which we call a prepositional phrase.

    Plain English Marian Wharton
  • The Latin avoids the use of prepositional phrases as modifiers of a Noun.

    New Latin Grammar Charles E. Bennett
British Dictionary definitions for prepositional


a word or group of words used before a noun or pronoun to relate it grammatically or semantically to some other constituent of a sentence prep
Derived Forms
prepositional, adjective
prepositionally, adverb
Usage note
The practice of ending a sentence with a preposition (Venice is a place I should like to go to) was formerly regarded as incorrect, but is now acceptable and is the preferred form in many contexts
Word Origin
C14: from Latin praepositiō a putting before, from pōnere to place
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for prepositional

1754, from preposition + -al (1).



late 14c., from Latin praepositionem (nominative praepositio) "a putting before, a prefixing," noun of action from past participle stem of praeponere "put before," from prae "before" (see pre-) + ponere "put, set, place" (see position (n.)). In grammatical use, a loan-translation of Greek prothesis, literally "a setting before."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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prepositional in Culture

preposition definition

A part of speech that indicates the relationship, often spatial, of one word to another. For example, “She paused at the gate”; “This tomato is ripe for picking”; and “They talked the matter over head to head.” Some common prepositions are at, by, for, from, in, into, on, to, and with.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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