Identifying and using prepositions

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., There was a lot of joking during the script writing ).

Guided and independent activities

Texts that students are currently studying could be used to determine and highlight prepositions. Students can highlight prepositional phrases and discuss their purpose. They can explore innovating texts by changing prepositional phrases. Students should be encouraged to share the changes and provide justifications as to choices made.

Activities to support the strategy

Activity 1: prepositional poetry composition

Complete prepositional poems

Students write a prepositional phrase one each on a strip of paper. These are grouped, corrected and rewritten if necessary to correct spelling, enrich vocabulary choices etc. They are then organised and added to in order to create the best poem using the following formula.

  • Line one: first prepositional phrase with the topic.
  • Line two: where.
  • Line three: where.
  • Line four: where/what.
  • Space.
  • Line five: feelings concerning topic.

e.g. thanks to Cathy

At the Beach

at the beach
amid many sunbathers
on my blanket
with my book
in the beautiful sunshine

is my favourite place to relax!


At the Mall

at the mall
with my mum
near the dressing room
in the ladies clothing department
around the perfume and jewellery

is the WORST place for me to be!!

Activity 2: prepositional pictionary

Create a set of cards with prepositions that are ‘drawable’. Like Pictionary the drawer has a time frame to draw with a time frame for students to guess. Accurate guesser gets to then select a new card and to draw it whilst the others guess.

Activity 3

The teaching of prepositions both for comprehension and for production could be taught in this approximate order:

  • spatial location – answers the where question (e.g. The clock is over the chalkboard). Often signalled by the prepositions above, below, over, in, on, under, underneath, at
  • the relationship between two or more things. (e.g. I found my pen lying among the books). Often signalled by among, between, beside, in front of, behind, next to, with, and in the middle of
  • direction- identify the direction an object moves in space (e.g. The bird flew over the tree.–direction in space). Often signalled by to, toward, into, onto, by, over, under, past, at, from, on, off, and out of
  • locates something in time – Often signalled by at, on, by, before, from, since, for, during, to, until, and after


Australian curriculum

ACELA1523: Text structure and organisation: Understand how ideas can be expanded and sharpened through careful choice of verbs, elaborated tenses and a range of adverb groups/phrases.

NSW syllabus

EN3-6B: Outcome 6: uses knowledge of sentence structure, grammar, punctuation and vocabulary to respond to and compose clear and cohesive texts in different media and technologies (EN3-6B) - Understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features: understand how ideas can be expanded and sharpened through careful choice of verbs, elaborated tenses and a range of adverb groups/phrases.

Return to top of page Back to top