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Teaching Prepositions To Kids – A Complete Guide

Teaching Prepositions To Kids – A Complete Guide

One of the crucial lessons to be taught in the early years of education is teaching prepositions to young children. Prepositions, which are among the most frequently used English terms, may be found in a number of our statements. There are 150 distinct prepositions in the English language of which only 60 to 70 are commonly used. Prepositions and other important English grammar principles might be challenging to teach youngsters at times. This is mostly due to the fact that (a) each one has a variety of meanings and (b) it is challenging to distinguish them in speech due to very few syllables.

Everything your kids need to know about prepositions is provided in this article, along with helpful suggestions and tips on how to teach prepositional words in a way that is both informative and enjoyable for your kids.

What is a Preposition?

Normally, a preposition occurs before a word, most often a noun, noun phrase, or pronoun. It describes the correlation between the nouns, pronouns, phrases, and other elements within the given respective sentences. It is a word that introduces an object and indicates time, place, direction, movement, location, or possession. Prepositions, in a nutshell, reveal the relationships between the words in a sentence.

It might be challenging to identify prepositions because many of them refer to the place (location) or the moment (time) that something happened. The meaning of most prepositions changes widely depending on the context since they have several meanings.

Importance of Learning Prepositions

1) Prepositions serve as indicators for the connections between people, things, and places, making them vital for youngsters to understand. A good grasp and correct usage of prepositional words enable young kids to communicate more effectively.

2) Your children will be able to construct extensive sentences in order to articulate and portray their ideas and thoughts.

3) Comprehending the concept of prepositions helps children understand simple day-to-day directions. For instance, when you instruct your kids, “Put your toys inside the box”, they will not place their toys on top of the box mistaking your instruction as “Put your toys on the box.”

4) Prepositions aid in understanding the context of a verbal or written sentence.

Types of Prepositions

The different categories of prepositions your children need to be familiar with include the following –

1) Simple or Single Preposition: Prepositions are classified as simple or single prepositions if they contain only one word.

Following are the simple prepositions that are most frequently used –


Some examples of simple prepositions are –

  • He is going to school.
  • My grandfather is sitting on the chair.
  • We met at the coffee house.
  • She is hiding under the table.

2) Double Preposition: The conjunction of two simple or single prepositions is known as a double preposition.

Below are some of the double prepositions often used –

IntoWithinInsideOut of

Some examples of double prepositions are –

  • The guests left without saying goodbye.
  • She went outside alone.
  • We could hear him snoring throughout the night.
  • Mary did not come inside.

3) Compound Preposition: Compound prepositions are created by combining prepositions with two or more words.

Some of the compound prepositions are –

On behalf ofIn the middle ofAside fromInstead ofAs per
In spite ofAccording toIn addition toIn front ofApart from

Some examples of compound prepositions are –

  • He will be fine according to the doctor.
  • Jay called me in the middle of the night.
  • Aside from singing, my sister can also dance.
  • I apologize on behalf of my brother.

4) Participial Preposition: Prepositions that end in “ing” (present participle) or “en” and “ed” (past participle) are referred to as participial preposition.

Here are a few common participial prepositions –


Some examples of participial prepositions are –

  • Considering our limited resources, we will not be able to complete the research on time.
  • I was working during the night, so I am going to sleep now.
  • He pleased everyone with his charming behavior.
  • John must have accidentally taken my pen.

5) Time, Place, and Direction Prepositions: Prepositions of time show how a noun is related to the rest of the words in the given sentence in terms of time.  Place and direction prepositions show how nouns and the rest of the remaining words of the given sentence relate to one another in terms of location, sequence, or movement.

Time prepositions include the following –


Examples of time prepositions are –

  • She reached the university at 9 a.m.
  • Aria is coming home on Christmas Eve.
  • I haven’t seen Tony since last night.
  • Cinderella rushed home before midnight.

Place and direction prepositions include the following –


Some examples of place and direction prepositions are –

  • The cow jumped over the moon.
  • He was walking hurriedly towards the main entrance.
  • Amy moved here from Florida.
  • The grocery store is right across the street.
  • Why is Tara sitting next to Riya?

Rules of Prepositions

1) A noun is placed after a preposition.

  • Example: He put the ring in the box. (in is a preposition followed by the noun box)

2) Preposition is never followed by a verb and if it is used then it’s in “ing” form.

  • Example: Those electric guitars are for singing.

3) Simple prepositions are termed “close-classed” because they are not likely to be expanded.

4) Prepositions are not capitalized in titles unless they are the first word.

5) A sentence ending with a preposition is still grammatically correct and acceptable.

  • Example: Whom did you come with?

6) Prepositions must have an object otherwise it is just an adverb (because adverbs don’t have an object).

  • Example: We’ll catch up after the movie. (after is a preposition having movie as object)
  • Example: They arrived soon after. (after is an adverb because it has no object)

7) Infinitive “to” vs Preposition “to”

  • Example: I am used to the heat. (to is a preposition)
  • Example: She loves to sing. (to is an infinitive participle)

Ways to Teach Prepositions to Kids

  1. Use colorful illustrations

To familiarise your children with common prepositions, you can draw or print different pictures that demonstrate the particular preposition. For instance, if you want to teach your children about the place and direction prepositions, you can print bright-colored images that show, let’s say a rabbit face peeping from behind the tree, or a raccoon under a pile of dry leaves, or a puppy sleeping next to a kitten, etc.

Point out the prepositions and say them out loud to help your child learn and memorize the preposition as well as their functions with context to the image. Make sure to teach one or two prepositions at a time. Since each preposition holds varied definitions, it is wise to focus your lessons and activities on teaching only one or two prepositional words.

To test their knowledge, you could give them simple instructions to follow such as, “Place your bag under the table” or “Can you hand me the book next to the phone?”

  1. Reading books

The easiest approach to explaining prepositions or any other concept of English grammar to kids would be through books. Children enjoy reading and listening to stories. There are several books as well as reading apps available online that you can use to teach your kids prepositions and how they work. Here are some book recommendations –

  • Hide-and-Seek: A First Book of Position Words by R.D. Ornot
  • Under, Over, By the Clover: What Is a Preposition? by Brian P. Cleary
  • Around the House, the Fox Chased the Mouse: A Prepositional Tale by Rick Walton
  • Up, Down and Around by Katherine Ayres

Ask your children to identify the prepositions when you read books with them. It helps them remember the preposition and how it is used.

  1. Complete the list

Make a list of a few common prepositions like on, it, under, for, with, at, etc., and write them on the board. Instruct your children to form sentences using each of the prepositions that are written on the board. Set a timer and allow your kids to come up with as many sentences as they can within the time limit.

  1. Finish the sentence

Encourage your kids to use prepositions in short sentences to help them comprehend this concept. You can either speak or write an incomplete sentence and then allow your child to finish it using a proper preposition. For instance, you could say “I bought strawberries…” and your child would respond, “from the market” to finish the statement.

  1. Circle the odd preposition

On the board, write five to six sentences. At least three to four of these sentences should include an incorrect preposition. As they read the sentences, have your children circle the preposition they believe is wrong. After they have finished the exercise, talk about why they believe the circled words are incorrect prepositions and ask them to write the correct one.  

  1. Fill in the blanks

When your child has a basic understanding of prepositions, you can carry out this exercise. Start by writing two or three simple sentences and leave a blank space in place of prepositional words. Jot down three prepositions below each sentence and ask your child to choose the correct one to fill in the blank. For example, in the first sentence, you can write “This book is __ children (for, in, at).”  

Allow your kids to use each of the prepositions given in the bracket before selecting the right word. By carefully considering each of the provided options, they may gain a better understanding of why “for” is the right fit for this sentence.

  1. Playing games

(a) Do as I say

This is a common and simple game of action you can play with your kids while teaching about prepositions. Explain to your children that you will say out loud various prepositions one after another, and they need to act them out. For example, your child may act out words like “down” or “behind” by doing things like sitting on the floor or standing behind the sofa respectively.

You can play the game with your kids if they are having trouble comprehending it. Say the preposition out loud, let’s say “under,” and act it out by sitting under the dining table. Either your kids will observe what you did, learn from it and act it out in a different but correct manner like sitting under the chair, or they will imitate you and join you under the table as well. In any case, they will learn about the various meanings of prepositions.

(b) Simon Says

This is another well-liked game that you may use to teach prepositions to children. Give your children simple instructions using prepositions to describe what you want them to do. For example, “Simon says sit beside the chair” or “Simon says stand next to the fridge.” Let your kids give instructions as well. (Avoid concentrating on the game’s rules because you are playing this game to make learning prepositions fun for your children).

  1. Hands-on practice

(a) A box and toys

Put a box and some toys in front of your children and instruct them to follow what you say. You can use different prepositions such as on, under, above, inside, etc. to give instructions and your kids will place the toys according to them. You could provide directives such as, “put the toy car inside the box” or “place the doll in front of the box” and so on.

(b) Draw the preposition

Ask your children to draw a circle and a square on the board or a piece of paper and give them instructions using prepositions. You could give out instructions like – “draw a small triangle on top of the square” or “draw a straight line next to the circle” etc.