How To Teach Prepositions

Written by Dan

Prepositions are one of the most important parts of speech, but they can be tricky for students to understand. As a teacher, it’s essential to target prepositions specifically when teaching grammar and sentence structure. Here are some tips on how to teach prepositions effectively.

Related: For more, check out our article on How To Use Speech Marks Correctly  here.

what is a preposition

Why Are Prepositions Important?

Prepositions denote relationships between two or more nouns, verbs, adjectives and clauses in a sentence, helping to make the sentence meaningful. Prepositions allow us to express concepts such as time, location, direction and possession in a much more concise way than we could without them.

For example, the preposition “in” allows us to infer that something is inside another thing; without it, the meaning of many sentences would be far less clear.

Prepositions also serve an essential role in forming questions and helping to convey a specific nuance or emotion when speaking. Without prepositions, our language would be far clumsier and less effective at communicating complex thoughts and ideas.

Examples Of Common Prepositions

Prepositions are common grammatical elements that tie together phrases and create engaging sentences. While there are many prepositions in the English language, some of the most commonly used prepositions in daily life include “of,” “for,” “with,” “in,” “on,” and “about.”

For example, we say things like “I’m thinking of you” or “write to me for more information,” using different prepositions to clarify our communication.

We also use these prepositions for practical things, such as “meeting with my boss,” “spending time in the city,” and “asking about the schedule.” Prepositions can play a significant role in everyday language, so it pays to learn how to use them properly.

Related: For more, check out our article on How To Use Commas Correctly here.

Activities That Would Help Teach Prepositions

Teaching prepositions to primary school students can be a fun and rewarding experience for both the teacher and the students.

For example, providing children with a map of their classroom labelled with common prepositions (e.g. under the desk, on the wall) and having them physically move around to find what is being asked can help bring the lesson alive.

Additionally, acting out stories that incorporate prepositional phrases such as “The snail crawled under the bridge” or “The balloon flew over the tree” is another excellent way of visualising positions within a context.

Creative activities such as drawing pictures based on preposition scenarios like “Draw an image of an elephant standing behind a tree” can also be very effective in helping children grasp these concepts.

Ultimately, there are various ways to successfully teach prepositions to primary school children, no matter their age or learning style.

Related: For more, check out our article on How To Use Parentheses Correctly here.

How To Create a Lesson Plan

Teaching primary school children to identify and use prepositions can be daunting. To make the lesson interesting and engaging:

  1. Present it as a game.
  2. Introduce prepositions by playing ‘Spot the Preposition’ where objects in the classroom or photos are scattered around with post-it notes, each note featuring a preposition; have the students move around, find each letter and read it aloud. You can also build ‘houses’ using construction blocks while having groups of students take turns placing objects in their houses, explaining where they are located using the correct prepositions.
  3. For visual learners, pull up online videos that feature the most common prepositions for them to watch together and discuss afterwards.

Through fun activities, primary children can learn about prepositions interactively!

5 Activities to Teach Prepositions:

Prepositions of place 

I have some bad news to tell my students; it appears a mischievous ghost lurks in the classroom! When I entered yesterday, things should have been in a different place. So that I may remember what was moved, I need your assistance.

This activity requires preparation ahead of time to observe and identify which objects have been displaced – for example, books beneath someone’s chair, markers on the windowsill, clocks atop my desk etc. Let us all use our detective skills to uncover this mystery and restore order in our educational setting!

Place students in pairs and ask them to explore the room for any changes that have been made. Challenge them to use prepositions of a place like ‘in’, ‘behind’, ‘under’ or ‘on’ to make sentences about where objects are located, like: “The bin is in the wrong corner; it should be behind the door,” or, “The books are under Francesca’s chair; They normally stay on the shelf.”

This activity can provide hours of entertainment for all age groups! It gets even more exciting when you assign a secret ghost (one student) who makes further modifications each day – this way, your pupils can review what they remember from one class period till another.

Prepositions of place

Have your students describe their perfect bedroom or living room to each other in pairs. Now imagine they’ve just won the lottery together and are in a position to buy their dream home!

With partners, please encourage them to create a detailed description of their fantasy house using prepositions of place, so an interior designer can make it come true.

You can limit this activity by deciding between one or two rooms for practice with prepositions of business. If you believe more is needed – allow them to design an entire residence!

As they design the house together, compromises will likely have to be made: Student A wants a 50-inch TV screen on the ceiling in their bedroom, while Student B would rather it hang on the living room wall.

Once both pairs of students finish constructing their houses, they can collaborate and describe each other’s dream homes with incredible accuracy! How precisely will they capture one another’s visions?

Prepositions of movement

This activity is perfect for your class if you teach a group of students! To start the scavenger hunt, hand out ten clues to each small group.

Please encourage them to collaborate and share ideas as they decipher the clues and take photos at each point on their journey. If you teach adults or teenagers, assign this task for homework – ensure it’s supervised in the case of teens!

  • As you make your way to the supermarket, take notice of the man standing static at the entrance. Capture an image with him as a memento of your journey!
  • Admire the majestic dolphin statue that stands proudly along the beach, and take a memorable selfie to capture your visit!
  • Climb the hill behind the school, then continue over the bridge. Capture a breathtaking photo of what you find on the other side! Once in class again, have students share their photographs and demonstrate prepositions for movement by describing each picture: “As we marched towards the supermarket and traipsed through those gates, we noticed this spectacular statue”.

Prepositions of time and place

Let’s stir up some competition in the classroom! Divide your students into small teams with a maximum of four members each. Write down ten prepositions on the board (e.g., in, under, on, into etc.) and have each team create as many correct sentences as possible using these prepositions for discussion – who will be crowned champions?

With this game, you can ensure that all students are involved while learning essential grammar rules.

Once the teams have declared how many sentences they expect to complete, it’s time for them to collaborate closely and diligently on their mission. If a team produces precisely what they said they would with 100% accuracy, then great! They will be awarded accordingly.

For example, if Team A says eight and completes eight correctly while Team B succeeds in writing ten accurately-crafted sentences, both are granted those respective points: 8 for Team A and 10 for Team B, respectively.

However, if anyone makes even one mistake that jeopardises the number of sentences promised beforehand, no point is earned by either party.

If Team A is sure that Team B can write ten precise sentences, they can challenge them to enumerate them. Then, should even one sentence be incorrect, Team A will acquire their points!

Prepositions of time

Divide your students into three teams and post a timetable for each group on the wall. Let one student from each team stand by their respective train schedule and relay the information to another member, who will then run back with this data, passing it off to a third teammate so they can accurately note what was said. Points will only be given out if sentences are accurate!

For example:

Student A asks, “What time does the train from Madrid to Barcelona leave?” Student B responds, “It departs at 10.00 every day.” Subsequently, Student C jots down the sentence: “The train from Madrid to Barcelona leaves at 10.00 on Thursdays.” Once each team has finished drafting their sentences, allow them a few minutes to review them.

Afterwards, award points for each correct response and receive feedback on your group’s work! For further practice with timetables and added enjoyment of this activity, allow students to create their plans.

Prepositions of time and place are essential tools for students to gain mastery of the English language. By engaging in interactive activities such as collaborative team tasks, sentence creation, and relaying information from one student to another, students can better understand how these parts of speech are used in everyday life.

With practice and repetition, your students can communicate confidently in English and express their thoughts clearly.

With the help of these exercises, you can ensure that your students understand how prepositions are used effectively in sentence structure and continue on their journey towards fluency.

Thanks for reading! Have fun teaching! If you enjoyed this article, check out our article on how to teach Fronted Adverbials!


Q: How can I ensure my students understand prepositions of time and place?

A: You can ensure your students understand prepositions of time and place by engaging in interactive activities such as collaborative team tasks, sentence creation, and relaying information from one student to another.

By practising these exercises regularly, your students will become more familiar with how prepositions are used in sentence structure and communicate confidently in English.

Q: What other activities can I do to help my students learn prepositions?

A: You can have your students play word games or create a scavenger hunt where they must find items related to specific prepositions. You can also have them create their timetables or draw a map and label them with prepositions of place. Additionally, you could use online resources such as videos and podcasts to reinforce the topic.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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