Sentence structure – prepositions

Identifying and using prepositions

There are approximately 150 prepositions in English. The prepositions of, to and in are among the ten most frequent words in English.

The name “preposition” (pre + position) means “place before”. Prepositions usually come before another word, such as a:

  • noun
  • pronoun
  • noun phrase
  • gerund (participle of verb – ends in –ing – but used as a noun, e.g., The dancing was enjoyed by all).

Activities to support the strategy

Activity 1: preposition quiz

Teachers download free PDF file “English Prepositions List”, available at

This e-book is not a “dictionary of prepositions.” It provides access to virtually all the English prepositions in one place with examples of their use in context. It also tests understanding of prepositions with 200 quiz questions (20 ten question quizzes) (with answers). Joint construction of answers could be quick lesson breaks.

Download a PDF that can be saved and used on the IWB with a writing overlay.

Activity 2: preposition hangman

Ask students either independently or with a partner to play preposition hangman:

Activity 3: prepositions of place game

Students drag objects from underneath the main illustration. Once clicked on the instructions tell you where to put it. Drawers, cupboards etc. open:

Activity 4: preposition desert

Students play independently. Reading required:

Activity 5: prepositional grammar wheel

Students play independently. Reading required:

Activity 6: outside prepositional play

Download and print the cards. In a group outside and around the fixed equipment (playground equipment) students follow the picture directions:

Activity 7: preposition website

Using the preposition website below use this as a quick stimulus material for IWB:


Activity 8

Use previous NAPLAN strategies:


Australian curriculum

ACELA1493: Text structure and organisation: Understand that the meaning of sentences can be enriched through the use of noun groups/phrases and verb groups/phrases and prepositional phrases.

NSW syllabus

EN2-9B: Outcome 9: uses effective and accurate sentence structure, grammatical features, punctuation conventions and vocabulary relevant to the type of text when responding to and composing texts  (EN2-9B) - Understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features: understand how to elaborate on ideas in texts through the use of prepositional phrases

NSW literacy continuum

COMC9M8: Comprehension, Cluster 9, Marker 8: Builds understanding about the meaning of a text by identifying and discussing text organisation and features, e.g. cohesive links.

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