What are Prepositions of Direction?

Prepositions of direction refer to people or things that are headed someplace, usually with an active verb involved. In other words, they show a relationship with motion, which is why they are also known as prepositions of movement. In some books or references, they are grouped together with prepositions of place or location.

Here are some examples of prepositions of direction in sentences:

  • The ball flew across the field with great speed.
  • I always get a strange thrill when the car goes through a tunnel.
  • Someone take this cake away from me or I won’t stop eating it.
  • Strong winds blew the roof off the old building.
  • My dog ran out of the yard to chase a rooster that wandered inside.

Prepositions of Direction Rules

Prepositions require objectsPrepositional phrases are made up of prepositions and their objects. While there are many sentence structures that split prepositional phrases, their objects are easily identifiable. Let’s look at some examples:

– Eason walked into the office with the mock-up.
– Jack and Jill went up the hill.
– Your cat is hiding under the couch.
PlacementWith the exception of some sentence structures, prepositions are almost always found before their objects: nouns and pronouns. For example:

– We were taking pictures around the property.
– This trail leads towards the temple.
– They drove past the area with an odd feeling of dread.

Take note that objects of prepositions function differently from objects of verbs. Objects of verbs typically “receive” actions. On the other hand, objects of prepositions are nouns or pronouns either referenced or affected by the preposition, which doesn’t necessarily receive an action.
Pronouns as Objects of PrepositionsWhen pronouns are used as objects of the preposition, they are always in the objective case: me, us, you, him, her, it, them. For example:

– Please give this to her.
– The birds were circling around me.
– Children ran toward their children when the clown arrived.
Table of Rules for Prepositions of Direction

Examples of Prepositions of Direction

1. Kyle and Allen walked along the highway overpass at sunset.

2. Through thick and thin, the group of friends can count on each other.

3. They need to walk past the restaurant to find the alley that opens to the beach.

4. We all traveled from Victorias to Dumaguete in one vehicle.

5. Can we really go around the world in 80 days?

6. Ha Jin walked into the conference room with the signed contracts.

7. Ezra pulled his socks up to reveal a Van Gogh print.

8. I called out to the cat but it ran away from me.

9. The tumbleweed cartwheeled across the dry desert.

10. Over the horizon, the summer moon cast a silver glow.

11. The bees fluttered through the open window in the attic.

12. Perry walked around the living room thinking to himself.

13. My grandmother, who likes to scare kids, once told me trolls lived under bridges.

14. Celeste leaned over the partition to get a close look at the news report.

15. Down by the river is a small patch of land that appears when the water is low.

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Prepositions of Direction Exercises with Answers

Exercise on Prepositions of Direction

Choose the proper preposition of direction from the options given.

1. You need to be cautious when the current pulls you _______ the water.

a. under

b. along

2. Betsy and her friends walked _______ the steps carefully.

a. up

b. along

3. The plane landed _______ the runway without a hitch.

a. from

b. onto

4. Having sold out her sandwiches, Tina pushed her empty trolley _______ the door.

a. out

b. down

5. It was difficult to get _______ the car with all the balloons I was holding.

a. along

b. in


1. a: You need to be cautious when the current pulls you under the water.

2. a: Betsy and her friends walked up the steps carefully.

3. b: The plane landed onto the runway without a hitch.

4. a: Having sold out her sandwiches, Tina pushed her empty trolley out the door.

5. b: It was difficult to get in the car with all the balloons I was holding.

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Prepositions of Direction List

Below is a list of prepositions of direction with their definitions and examples:

Aboveat a higher place than somethingA group of medical students moved to the apartment above us.
Across (from)/Oppositemoving from one side to the other of a given spaceThey ran across the street when it started to rain.
Alongfrom one point to another in a lineThe couple held hands as they walked along the pavement.
Aroundin the general area of something; moving in a curved lineDelia’s cats ran in circles around the pole.
Away froma distance from someone or somethingMove away from the snake; it could be venomous.
Bynear or around the areaWe tiptoed by the window.
Beneathunder somethingHer phone was beneath some folders.
Behindat or towards the backKyle walked behind me.
Belowlower than somethingStick the paper below this line.
Beside/Next toat the side of someone or somethingHerman sat next to me at the party.
Betweenin the space that separates two people or thingsThere’s a river running between the two villages.
Close to/Neara short distance awayRemus lives close to me.
Downthe opposite of up; moving from a higher to a lower pointWe were hiking down the hill when the river came into view.
Frompointe to where movement beginsBrooke snatched the book from me.
In front ofsome distance forwardLiam stood in front of me.
Intotowards a point inside somethingIt was a challenge to carry the fridge into the house.
Offmovement away from something; removing or disconnecting somethingThe boat sailed off the coast of Hoi An.
Ontomoving to a point on the surface of somethingThey climbed onto the roof to fix the cable.
Out/Out ofcoming out of a placeIt’s too loud, let’s get out of here.
Overabove or higher than something; directly upwardThe Frisbee flew over the old man’s head.
Pastto or on the further side ofMy house is just past the bakery.
Throughinto one side and out of the other sideGina’s heart was racing when they went through the last loop.
Toin the direction ofLeah and I walk to school every day.
Towardsimilar to “to” with the difference that “to” usually indicates a result or completion but “toward” doesn’tShe walked toward him with a smile.
Underbelow or lower than somethingWe set up the tent under a starry sky.
Upfurther along something; from a lower point to something higherIt was romantic to walk up the street with him at night.
Preposition of Direction Table
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Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners

Use Grammar ListsEnglish learning tools such as lists and tables can’t replace books, but they are functional guides. They simplify complex grammar subjects into concise models, patterns, rules, and sentence examples. A great way to utilize this method of learning is to create your own lists and tables. Doing so naturally customizes your material, tailoring them according to your learning preferences and language requirements.
Use Audio-Visual ResourcesIndependent learning is a valuable supplement to traditional classroom instruction. But to get its full advantage, you should use the right tools. By adding your favorite English language films, TV shows, social media channels, music, and podcasts to your self-study routine, you’ll attain invaluable insight into how native and non-native English speakers use the language in different social, academic, and professional situations. This will ultimately improve your understanding of language elements such as sarcasm and wordplay, and enhance your vocabulary and sentence construction skills.
Practical UseFor many English language learners, studying English is especially challenging because they live or study in places where the language isn’t used or spoken by the general public. The only real way to improve language skills is to use it regularly, which puts many students at a disadvantage. If you’re in the same circumstances, it’s important to remember that there are ways to make an “English environment” that you can benefit from. Organizing a study group with classmates and friends is a good starting point. This will provide a chance to explore language with other people who have similar goals. Furthermore, you can maintain personal relationships with English speakers, native and non-native alike.
Table of Advice for English Learners
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Common Errors Made by English Learners

Common ErrorsExplanation
Wrong Preposition  Prepositions are difficult and confusing to study because each one can possess many meanings and distinctive functions. It’s crucial to study the definitions of each preposition and take note of how they’re used in sentences. For example in the tent doesn’t mean the same thing as around the tent. The first one refers to something inside an enclosed space (The man is sleeping in the tent.), while the second one can mean either someone is moving in a curved path inside the tent or circling outside it. (Something is moving around the tent). Learn these differences and practice them in writing and speaking. In time, you’ll be able to pick the correct preposition that you need for your own sentences.
InfinitivesVerbs NEVER follow prepositions. Verbs are not part of prepositional phrases. Let’s look at some examples:

– I like to sing.

The sentence doesn’t have a preposition. The word “to” is part of the infinitive participle “to sing.”

– They scolded her for singing too loudly.

The word “singing” is derived from the verb “sing” but it functions as a gerund, which is used as a noun.

Many resources online classify “to” as a preposition (which is one of its uses as a word) but then continue giving infinitive participles as examples. This is wrong.
Intransitive and Transitive Verbs  Prepositions can be used to establish relationships between intransitive verbs and nouns that can act as their objects to some degree. For example:

– He climbed over the counter.
– They sang in the studio.

On the other hand, prepositions shouldn’t be used with the objects of transitive verbs.

– She sliced the onion.
– He opened the drawer.

These sentences have transitive verbs and adding prepositions to their objects (e.g. She sliced over the onion. or He opened from the drawer.) would make the sentences incorrect.

Many English language students forget when to include the prepositions either because they don’t realize the necessity or they’re directly translating from their native language.
Prepositions of Direction Learning Strategies Table

Learning Strategies and Best Practices with Prepositions of Direction

In the English language, prepositions are some of the most widely used words. However, the number of prepositions and each one’s multiple meanings make mastering them quite a big challenge. Prepositions are rarely learned individually in traditional classroom settings. In many instances, English learners learn prepositions through exposure and experience. They hear phrases spoken a particular way and add them to their own vocabulary. The following are some best practices when studying and using prepositions of direction:

  1. Generally, you don’t need to know the intricate technicalities of English grammar, and prepositions are one of the most perplexing topics you can ever come across. Instead of focusing on their individual meanings, study prepositional phrases. Listen to and take note of how English speakers use them and then try them out when you can. There are standard expressions in English, which are often independent of rules or rationale. It’s just the way they’re spoken. Why is it “on a bus” but “in a taxi?” So avoid asking “Why do you use this and not that?” Instead, ask “How do you say this?” This is one way to develop fluency organically.
  2. When in doubt, refer to a list or a dictionary. Also, remember that you don’t need to use prepositions all the time. If you’re having a hard time choosing the proper word, you can exercise your paraphrasing skills and remake your sentence in a manner that doesn’t require a preposition.
  3. Read, practice, talk. The more prepositional phrases you have acquired, the more precise you’ll become in picking not only the proper words but also the proper ways of using them. In time, you wouldn’t even think about it, and use the words instinctively.

Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand preposition form of situation and comparision, preposition form of time and preposition form of place.

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Prepositions of Direction Frequently Asked Questions

These are the prepositions of time, place, movement, measure, manner, source, possession, and agency. Some books and grammar references have more or fewer types or use different terms for the classifications. Prepositions of place (or “location”), for example, can sometimes include prepositions of direction and movement. Or they can be classified individually.

Another example is prepositions of measure are sometimes called prepositions of degree. If you want to take a more detailed look at each type, feel free to look through our blog. is maintained by language specialists that aim to present the essentials of the English language with the student in mind.

Explore our grammar page that lists articles dedicated not only to each type of preposition but also to other grammatical topics.

Prepositions of direction show the relationships of nouns or pronouns in sentences to a certain degree of motion.

Below are some examples:

– They watched the sheep run across the grassy meadow.
– We walked up the stairs to check out the terrace.
– Will drove the car confidently through the narrow path.
– Fili and I hid behind the dumpster and immediately regretted it.
– The duck waddled away from the pond, seemingly sensing danger.

The difference between them isn’t as notable as one might think. Toward is American English, and towards is its British English counterpart. Outta is the informal and slangy version of out of for some Americans, and round is the British English way of saying around.

Yes. There is no grammar rule that prohibits ending sentences with prepositions, despite the popular belief that it is incorrect.

The sentence “They don’t know what they’re talking about” will always be a superior sentence to “They don’t know about which they are talking.” The second sentence, although grammatically correct, sounds pompous, awkward, and ridiculous.

If someone insists that “What are you looking at?” is wrong and the correct way of saying it is “At what are you looking?”, step away, run, and never look back. Kidding aside, you will find many sentences ending in prepositions in this article and countless others in various literary works and publications.

It lies in the appearance of motion. “In” refers to the place where a person or thing already is. On the other hand, We use the preposition “into” when we refer to people or things that are going or being put into another place or location.

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