In this blog post we are going to look at prepositions of place, state and movement in English. Prepositions are always quite challenging in any language and often it’s just about remembering when and where you use them. We hope this brief guide can help out!

Prepositions of place

These are part of speech that give information about the location of an event or action. Here are the main prepositions used:

in – I live in the UK

on – The cat is on the table

under – The pen is under the sofa

beside – The book was beside me on the bed

in front of – The post office is in front of my house

into – Put the pen into the box

out of – He took the gift out of the packaging

behind – Look behind you, someone is walking there!

through – I put the transaction through the machine

What are the most common prepositions of place?

In and at are the most common prepositions of place. Let’s see how they are used:


– When you refer to a place physically
I have an event in that hall

– For streets without an address
My office is in Dean Street

– For cities, countries and all geographical names
Alex lives in Birmingham


– When we talk about a place although when referring to an event taking place rather than the physical space
I was at work

– For exact addresses
I used to live at 25 Acacia Avenue

– When you make reference to a place although not physically only by its function
We will meet at the cinema

Prepositions of state

There are quite a lot of prepositions of state but here we will look at some of the main ones:

On – indicates being on top of something
The pen is on the table

Under – means below
The book is under the sofa

Over – indicates being above something else without touching
The helicopter is hovering over us

Above – this is the same as over but is more generic in its use
The town is above the valley

Between – indicates being in the middle of two
The cat is between the tree and the house

Among – means being part of many
He’s the best player among them

Opposite & in front of – indicate facing someone or something
The post office is opposite the bank

Behind – indicates at the back of
Jane is hiding behind the tree

Next to – indicates to be directly adjacent or beside
His girlfriend sat next to him on the bench

Near – indicates being close in a generic way
The petrol station is near the High Street

Around – expresses being close to, often in a circular or semi-circular shape
The players gathered around their captain

Prepositions of movement

There are fewer prepositions of movement to or from a place so it should be easier to remember them.

From – indicates an action that began in a certain place
I’m coming from work
I come from France

To – indicates an action going towards a place
I go to university

Into – this is very similar to ‘to’ but only refers to enclosed spaces
I’m going into the laboratory

Through – indicates crossing an enclosed space
She slowly walked through the tunnel

Across – indicates crossing an open space
He walked across the street to go to the post office

Just be careful when you use prepositions, translating can sometimes work but not always! Focus on the phrases that are different to your language, use them in context and after a while you will start to remember them.

An alternative to prepositions of place, state and movement in English – Phrasal verbs!

Phrasal verbs also use prepositions but the difference here is that the prepositions change the meaning of the main verb. Take a look at our blog on phrasal verbs for more of a detailed look.