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Prepositions of Place – Visual Vocabulary Video

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In this lesson, you can learn about prepositions of place in English.

You can see how to use several different prepositions and prepositional phrases to say where something is.

QUIZ: Prepositions of Place

Now, test your knowledge of what you learned in the lesson by trying this quiz. You can get help with some questions if you press ‘Hint’. You will get your score at the end, when you can click on ‘View Questions’ to see all the correct answers.

  • The egg is in the bowl.
  • The egg is inside the bowl.
  • The egg is on top of the bowl.

‘In’ and ‘inside’ generally have the same meaning. If you can choose, then it’s better to use ‘in’.

Use ‘inside’ when you want to emphasise that something is surrounded on all sides.

For example,

  • Inside an egg, you can find two parts: the white and the yolk.

Inside of an egg

  • The egg is in front of the bowl.
  • The egg is behind the bowl.
  • The egg is on the left of the bowl.
  • The egg is on the right of the bowl.

You can also say ‘to the left’ or ‘to the right’. There’s no difference in meaning.

  • The egg is next to the bowl.
  • The egg is near the bowl.

‘Next to’ and ‘near’ are similar, but not the same.

‘Next to’ is more precise. If you say ‘The egg is next to the bowl’, you mean that there isn’t much space between the bowl and the egg. They’re very close together.

‘Near’ is less precise. If you say ‘The egg is near the bowl’, you mean that there isn’t a lot of distance between the bowl and the egg, but it doesn’t tell you exactly how close they are.

You can also use ‘beside’ and ‘by’, which are similar to ‘next to’. ‘Next to’ is more common in most situations.

  • The egg is next to the bowl.
  • The egg is beside the bowl.
  • The egg is by the bowl.

All three have the same meaning, although in practice, you would probably always use ‘next to’. If you’re not sure, use ‘next to’!

What about this preposition of place: ‘near’?

‘Near’ could mean closer, or further away. ‘The egg is near the bowl’ could mean that the egg is in many different positions.

  • The egg is between the bowls.
  • The egg is among the bowls.

‘Between’ and ‘among’ both have the meaning of ‘in the middle of’ or ‘surrounded by’.

‘Between’ is more specific. ‘Between’ means in the middle of two things.

‘Among’ means in the middle of many things.

  • He’s holding the egg over the bowl.
  • He’s holding the egg above the bowl.
  • He’s holding the egg under the bowl.
  • He’s holding the egg below the bowl.

‘Over’ and ‘above’ are similar as prepositions of place. Often, you can use either preposition, and the meaning is the same.

Be careful; if you’re talking about movement, then ‘over’ and ‘above’ are different.

‘Over’ and ‘under’ are opposites. ‘Above’ and ‘below’ are opposites.

Like ‘over’ and ‘above’, ‘under’ and ‘below’ are often the same.

‘Often’ the same? So, when are they different?

There’s one important difference. If something completely covers something else, you can only use ‘over’ and ‘under’.

  • He put the bowl over the egg.
  • The egg is under the bowl.

You need to use ‘over’ and ‘under’ because the bowl covers the egg completely.

  • The bowls are opposite each other.

Use the preposition ‘opposite’ when two things are on different sides of something else.

For example, if you’re sitting at a table, and I’m sitting on the other side, facing you, then we’re sitting opposite each other.

You can also say ‘across from’, which is more conversational but has the same meaning.

That’s the end of the lesson. We hope you enjoyed learning about these prepositions and prepositional phrases of place in English. Thanks for watching!


Want more? Keep learning with another Oxford Online English lesson on English prepositions ‘to’, ‘in’, and ‘at’.

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