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Prepositions of place and directions



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Prepositions of place and directions

Main points


  • You normally use prepositional phrases to say where a person or thing is, or the direction they are moving in.

  • You can also use adverbs and adverb phrases for place and direction.

  • Many words are both prepositions and adverbs.

  1. You use prepositions to talk about the place where someone or something is. Prepositions are always followed by a noun group, which is called the object of the preposition.

above

below

in

opposite

through

among

beneath

inside

outside

under

at

beside

near

over

underneath

behind

between

on

round




He stood near the door.

Two minutes later we were safely inside the taxi.

Note that some prepositions consist of more than one word.



in between

in front of

next to

on top of

There was a man standing in front of me.

The books were piled on top of each other.

  1. You can also use prepositions to talk about the direction that someone or something is moving in, or the place that someone or something is moving towards.

across

into

past

to

along

onto

round

towards

back to

out of

through

up

down










They dived into the water.

She turned and rushed out of the room.

  1. Many prepositions can be used both for place and direction.

The bank is just across the High Street. (place)

I walked across the room. (direction)

We live in the house over the road. (place)

I stole his keys and escaped over the wall. (direction)

  1. You can also use adverbs and adverb phrases for place and direction.

abroad

here

underground

everywhere

away

indoors

upstairs

nowhere

downstairs

outdoors

~

somewhere

downwards

there

anywhere




Sheila was here a moment ago.

Can’t you go upstairs and turn the bedroom light off?

Note that a few noun groups can also be used as adverbials of place or direction.

Steve lives next door at number 23.

I thought we went the other way last time.


  1. Many words can be used as prepositions and as adverbs, with no difference in meaning. Remember that prepositions have noun groups as objects, but adverbs do not.

Did he fall down the stairs?

Please do sit down.

I looked underneath the bed. but the box had gone!

Always put a sheet of paper underneath.

Prepositions of place – at, in, on

Main points


  • You use ‘at’ to talk about a place as a point.

  • You use ‘in’ to talk about a place as an area.

  • You use ‘on’ to talk about a place as a surface.

  1. You use ‘at’ when you are thinking of a place as a point in space.

She waited at the bus stop for over twenty minutes.

Where were you last night?’ – ‘At Mick’s house.’



  1. You also use ‘at’ with words such as ‘back’, ‘bottom’, ‘end’, ‘front’, and ‘top’ to talk about the different parts of a place.

Mrs Castle was waiting at the bottom of the stairs.

They escaped by a window at the back of the house.

I saw a taxi at the end of the street.

You use ‘at’ with public places and institutions. Note that you also say ‘at home’ and ‘at work’.



I have to be at the station by ten o’clock.

We landed at a small airport.

A friend of mine is at Training College.

She wanted to stay at home.

You say ‘at the corner’ or ‘on the corner’ when you are talking about streets.



The car was parked at the corner of the street.

There’s a telephone box on the corner.

You say ‘in the corner’ when you are talking about a room.



She put the chair in the corner of the room.

  1. You use ‘in’ when you are talking about a place as an area. You use ‘in’ with:

  • a country or geographical region

When I was in Spain, it was terribly cold.

A thousand homes in the east of Scotland suffered power cuts.

  • a city, town, or village

I’ve been teaching at a college in London.

  • a building when you are talking about people or things inside it

They were sitting having dinner in the restaurant.

You also use ‘in’ with containers of any kind when talking about things inside them.



She kept the cards in a little box.

  1. Compare the use of ‘at’ and ‘in’ in these examples.

I had a hard day at the office. (‘at’ emphasises the office as a public place or institution)

I left my coat behind in the office. (‘in’ emphasises the office as a building)

There’s a good film at the cinema. (‘at’ emphasises the cinema as a public place)

It was very cold in the cinema. (‘in’ emphasises the cinema as a building.)

  1. When talking about addresses, you use ‘at’ when you give the house number, and ‘in’ when you just give the name of the street.

They used to live at 5, Weston Road.

She got a job in Oxford Street.

Note that American English uses ‘on’: ‘He lived on Penn Street.’

You use ‘at’ when you are talking about someone’s house.

I’ll see you at Fred's house.


  1. You use ‘on’ when you are talking about a place as a surface. You can also use ‘on top of’.

I sat down on the sofa.

She put her keys on top of the television.

You also use ‘on’ when you are thinking of a place as a point on a line, such as a road, a railway line. a river, or a coastline.



Scrabster is on the north coast.

Oxford is on the A34 between Birmingham and London.

Practice

  1. Put the correct preposition into each gap.

Education

When my grandmother was at school, she had to learn everything (a) ________ heart, and even years later she could recite countless poems (b) _______ memory. She was discouraged (c) _______ thinking (d) _______ herself, and concentrated simply (e) _______ learning facts. The teachers were very strict (f) _______ pupils in those days. My grandfather confided (g) _______ me that he was expelled (h) _______ school (i) _______ playing truant just once.

It is always worthwhile for governments to invest (j) _______ education. Nobody should be deprived (k) _______ a good education, and everybody should benefit (l) _______ it. Nothing can compensate (m) _______ a bad start in life. Pupils (n) _______ public schools still account (o) _______ many of the students at Oxford and Cambridge University. Until quite recently these universities seemed to be prejudiced (p) _______ pupils from state schools. Many people objected very strongly (q) _______ this and at last things are changing.

I had no intention (r) _______ staying (s) _______ at university after I had finished my first degree. I finally succumbed (t) _______ parental pressure, but only (u) _______ protest, and carried out research (v) _______ the life of Baudelaire.

  1. Put the correct preposition into each gap (if necessary).

  1. Are you coming to classes _____ Monday?

  2. Can’t you hurry up? The train leaves _____ 9 o’clock.

  3. There weren’t many people _____ the party.

  4. David has been a teacher _____ 10 years.

  5. They got married some time _____ .

  6. Do you know the names of the letter _____ English?

  7. I don’t live far _____ my office. In fact, it’s quite _____ .

  8. What time do you usually come _____ home?

  9. He lives _____ the country.

  10. I think she’s gone _____ holiday _____ the South.

  11. I’m going to stay _____ my parents _____ July.

  12. It’s so difficult to wake him up _____ the morning.

  13. The girls are _____ the bus stop.

  14. They are going _____ school.

  15. The children are playing _____ the garden.

  16. Did you see the film _____ television yesterday?

  17. I try to go _____ bed before midnight.

  18. Young people are fond _____ sports.

  19. Charles is very good _____ languages.

  20. It might be John but I thought he was _____ work.

  21. - How do you get _____ work?

- I go there _____ bus.

  1. Look _____ that picture.

  2. Why don’t you take _____ your coat. It’s warm today.

  3. She’s French, she comes _____ the South of France.

Unit 3 Review of tenses (active/passive voice)

Practice

  1. Matching verb forms

Match a sentence from A with a sentence from B, according to the tense used. Say which tense it is. (Some sentences are in the negative or question form.)

Example

He works in a bank.

She doesn’t smoke.

They are both Present Simple active.

A


  1. I don’t believe you.

  2. Have you been waiting long?

  3. He hasn’t arrived yet.

  4. It wasn’t mended properly.

  5. How are you feeling today?

  6. My office is being decorated at the moment.

  7. We got lost.

  8. What were you doing last night?

  9. This book has been translated into several languages.

  10. The post is delivered twice a day.

B

  1. It’s raining.

  2. Did you have a good time?

  3. How are these machines made?

  4. They were working for something.

  5. He was killed in a car crash.

  6. What is being done about inflation?

  7. I’ve been thinking about moving house.

  8. Have you seen Henry?

  9. A cure for cancer hasn’t been found yet.

  10. Where do you work?

  1. Active or passive?

Put the verb in brackets in the correct tense, and decided if it is active or passive.

Ex.: My car __was stolen__ (steal) last night.

Joseph Ford, the politician who (a) __________ (kidnap) last week as he was driving to his office, (b) __________ (release) unharmed. He (c) __________ (examine) by a doctor last night, and (d) __________ (say) to be in good health. Mr Ford (e) __________ (find) walking along a small country lane early yesterday evening. A farmer (f) __________ (see) him, recognised who it was, and (g) __________ (contact) the police. When his wife (h) __________ (tell) the news, she said, ‘I am delighted and relieved that my husband (i) __________ (find).’ Acting on information received, the police made several arrests, and a man (j) __________ (question) in connection with the kidnapping.


  1. Passive construction

Put the following sentences into the passive, using a personal pronoun as the subject.

Ex.: Someone told her the news.

She was told the news.



  1. Someone will give you your tickets at the airport.

  2. People asked me a lot of questions about my background.

  3. Someone usually shows airline passengers how to use a life jacket at the beginning of the flight.

  4. If somebody offers you a cheap camera, don’t buy it. It’s probably stolen.

  5. Doctors have given him six months to live.

  6. Someone will tell you what you have to do when you arrive.

  7. My parents advised me to spend some time abroad before looking for work.

  8. Pleased to meet you. People have told me a lot about you.

  9. At interviews, people ask you quite searching questions.

  10. In a few years’ time, my company will send me to our New York office.

  1. Tense review (1)

Put the verb in brackets in an appropriate tense. When there is no verb ( __ __ __ ), insert an auxiliary verb.

  1. My wife and I (a) ________ (live) in our present house in the country for five years. We (b) ________ (move) here after our second child (c) ________ (be) born. We (d) ________ (live) in town for ten years , and (e) ________ (decide) that as soon as we (f) ________ (can) afford it, we (g) ________ (move) away from the smoke and the noise of the city centre, which we finally (h) __ __ __ in 1985. We (i) ________ never (regret) it. We (j) ________ (be) reminded of the wisdom of our decision every morning when we (k) ________ (draw) the curtains to see the open fields stretching before us. When the children (l) ________ (have) breakfast, they (m) ________ (rush) outside to play, which they (n) __ __ __ whatever the weather. Whilst they (o) ________ (play) outside, we somehow manage to start the day.

  2. Actually, we (a) ________ (think) of moving. My wife (b) ________ (accept) a new job, which she (c) ________ (start) next month. As soon as she (d) __ __ __ , she (e) ________ (have) a journey of fifty miles there and back, and I (f) ________ (not think) that she (g) ________ (realise) just how tiring this (h) ________ (be). I (i) ________ (go) away on business for a few days next week, and while I (j) ________ (be) away, my sister (k) ________ (come) to stay, which she (l) __ __ __ quite often. Once I (m) ________ (be) back, I (n) ________ (decide) that I (o) ________ (get) in touch with some estate agents. I (p) ________ (not feel) happy until we (q) ________ (find) a house closer to my wife’s job. I wonder what the children (r) ________ (say) when they (s) ________ (hear) that we (t) ________ (move). This is the first time they (u) ________ (live) in the country, and they (v) ________ (hate) to move back to town.

  1. Tense review (2)

Put the verb in brackets in an appropriate tense.

Junk story that beat the experts



The strangest story I (a) _____ ever _____ (report) began one Spring morning in Hong Kong. I was born and brought up in Hong Kong and I (b) _______ just _______ (start) working as a radio reporter there.

In March 1981, ninety-five fishing junks (c)_______ (spot) sailing over the horizon. Immediately they (d) _______ (surround) by police launches who thought they were trying (e) _______ (sneak) into Hong Kong against the law.

One of Hong Kong’s greatest problems is trying to keep out thousands of people who think life there (f) _______ (be) better than in China, and try to smuggle themselves in. Hong Kong is already the most crowded place in the world, and there’s no room for more people.

But when the police asked the junk people why they (g) _______ (come) they (h) _______ (get) a shock. They said they (i) _______ (stay) for a few days (j) _______ (escape) the terrible calamity that was about (k) _______ (strike) their villages in China.

They said there was complete panic at home because everyone (l) _______ (believe) an earthquake (m) _______ (come).

Throughout its history China (n) _______ (suffer) terrible earthquakes, cities (o) _______ (destroy) and thousands killed. Nowadays, all over the country there are seismographic centres where earthquakes can easy (p) _______ (predict).

The Hong Kong authorities phoned one of these centres in China to find out whether they (q) _______ (warn) about a forthcoming earthquake, but the answer was no. Experts in Hong Kong agreed that there was no reason for the junk people’s fears.

Consequently the junk people (r) _______ (send) home. On their way back an earthquake did indeed (s) _______ (strike) their village. No-one was hurt but the mystery (t) _______ (remain). How did the junk people know, when the scientists and experts with all their sophisticated machines didn’t?

Unit 4 Modal verbs

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