Prepositions Explained

Prepositions – when and where to begin?



Simply put, prepositions tell you where something is or when it happened.


This is the simple part of teaching prepositions, using them to describe the physical position of a noun.

beside  |  behind  |  on  |  outside  

atop  |  alongside  |  before

under  |  above  |  upon

in  |  inside  |  by  |  near  

between  |  below  |  beneath

You can teach prepositions to show position using drama or even PE, encourage children to move around their space and crouch under the gymnastics equipment, lean on their table, stand upon the mat. This is a great way for children to understand what prepositions are and also introduce new words they may not have seen before, or use in everyday life. Hop alongside the bench, balance atop the beam.

Our ‘prepositions showing position’ bundle can help you to consolidate children’s learning and it includes our fun matching cards, perfect for small or paired work.


The trickier part of teaching prepositions, using them to show when something happened.

before  |  since  |  after

during  |  by  |  until  |  from

The main thing you want to teach children is that prepositions are always in relation to another noun. They can often be confused with subordinating conjunctions, which are always used before a clause containing a verb.

In this sentence, the preposition shows when Sally ate in relation to Dan.

Sally ate before Daniel.

Before is used as a subordinating conjunction because it is used before a clause that contains a verb (eat).

Sally ate before Daniel was able to eat his meal.


‘Since’ used as a preposition.

We haven’t used the car since the summer holidays.

‘Since’ used as a subordinating conjunction.

We haven’t used the car since we went on holiday.

To help consolidate learning about prepositions our grammar blast bundles contain short, snappy activities identifying a range of prepositions.

Our resources can also be found on TES.