[prep-uh-zish-uh n]
noun Grammar.
  1. 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 preposition

1350–1400; Middle English preposicioun < Latin praepositiōn- (stem of praepositiō) a putting before, a prefix, preposition. See pre-, position
Related formsprep·o·si·tion·al, adjectiveprep·o·si·tion·al·ly, adverbnon·prep·o·si·tion·al, adjectivenon·prep·o·si·tion·al·ly, adverbqua·si-prep·o·si·tion·al, adjectivequa·si-prep·o·si·tion·al·ly, adverb
Can be confusedpreposition 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.



or pre-po·si·tion

[pree-puh-zish-uh n]
verb (used with object)
  1. to position in advance or beforehand: to preposition troops in anticipated trouble spots.

Origin of preposition

First recorded in 1960–65; pre- + position Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for preposition

Contemporary Examples of preposition

  • When I shut off the radio, the last word I hear must be a noun—not a verb, or adjective, or preposition.

    The Daily Beast logo
    A.J. Jacobs: How I Write

    Noah Charney

    May 29, 2013

Historical Examples of preposition

  • The participle may also have the character of an adjective, the adverb either of an adjective or of a preposition.

  • Ago is derived from the participle agone, while since comes from a preposition.

    The Verbalist

    Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)

  • The Anglicism of terminating the sentence with a preposition is rejected.

    The Verbalist

    Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)

  • Very often the preposition is not repeated in a sentence, when it should be.

    The Verbalist

    Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)

  • One of the many cases in which the French preposition has been incorporated in the name.

    The Romance of Names

    Ernest Weekley

British Dictionary definitions for preposition


  1. a word or group of words used before a noun or pronoun to relate it grammatically or semantically to some other constituent of a sentenceAbbreviation: prep
Derived Formsprepositional, adjectiveprepositionally, adverb

Word Origin for preposition

C14: from Latin praepositiō a putting before, from pōnere to place


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
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

Word Origin and History for preposition

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

preposition in Culture


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 New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.