Mastering Prepositions for IELTS Success

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  • Updated On:Aug 31,2023 03:06 PM IST

Prepositions are used in almost every sentence and are considered a complex topic in English grammar. It shows the relationship between the words in the sentence as well as the word that is the object of a preposition. Read the blog to learn some important prepositions for IELTS and their uses.

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is one of the popular English proficiency tests accepted by most colleges, universities, and other authorities worldwide. Grammar, especially the use of prepositions in IELTS, plays a vital role in assessing an individual’s language ability.

Prepositions can be used to show location, direction, time, purpose, and relationship. Some common prepositions include in, on, at, to, for, of, with, by, from, and about. It is important to use prepositions correctly in order to communicate effectively in IELTS.

Introduction to Prepositions

Prepositions are words that showcase the relationship between a noun or pronoun and another word in a sentence. Prepositions usually come before nouns or pronouns, but they can also come before verbs or adjectives.

Here are some examples of prepositions:

• in
• on
• at
• to
• from
• of
• with
• by
• for
• about

Prepositions can be used to show:

Direction: The preposition "to" can be used to show direction.
Time: The preposition "at" can be used to show time.
Place: The preposition "in" can be used to show place.
Relationship: The preposition "of" can be used to show a relationship.

Prepositions are complex but an important part of grammar for IELTS exam.

Prepositions and adverbs

Prepositions and adverbs have no difference in their forms but in their uses: a preposition has an object, but an adverb does not.

• Prepositions show the relationship between a noun or pronoun and another word in a sentence.
• Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, or entire sentences. They typically answer the questions "how," "when," "where," "why," or "to what extent."

Guidelines for Using Prepositions in IELTS

Prepositions for Position 

Vertical position: above, after, below, beneath, down, on, on top of, over, under, underneath, up. The prepositions above and over are often interchangeable, as are the prepositions below and under. However, there are some specific cases where one preposition is preferred over the other.

• Over is used to indicate horizontal movement, and under is used to indicate a quantity that is less than another quantity.
• Prepositions like above or below are used to talk about level or rank.
• Beneath is usually used in idiomatic phrases.

Horizontal position: against, along, alongside, around, at, beside, between, by, in, near, next to, on, on the left or right of

• At is used to indicate a point in space.
• On indicates a surface or a line.
• In is used to indicate something that surrounds it.

Facing relationships: across, after, before, behind, facing, in front of, opposite, over

• The prepositions in front of and behind are often used to describe the spatial relationship between two things that are on a line and facing the same way. These prepositions can also be used in a metaphorical sense.
• The prepositions before and after can also be used to describe the position of two things on a line, but they have a slightly different meaning. The preposition before is used to indicate that something is in front of something else but not necessarily facing the same way.
• The prepositions opposite, facing, across, and over all have the meaning of "on the other side of."
• The difference between opposite and facing is that the items on the "line" are not facing in the same direction, as in the diagram above, but are facing each other.

Prepositions for Movements and Directions

Vertical movement: down (to), off, on, onto, over, up (to).
Passing movement: across, along, down, over, past, through, up.
Movement in one direction—around, at, away from, down, down to, from, into and onto, out of, to, towards, up.

Prepositions for Time

Point in time—at, in, on.
Before or after: after, before, by, past.
Duration: as from/of, between, during, for, from...till/until/up to, in, inside, since, through (out), until/till, up to, within. 

Other meanings

Reason: because of, due to, for, from, out of, owing to, through
Means: by, by means of, in, via, with
Purpose: for, towards
Comparison: Against, as, besides, between, contrary to, than, un (like)
Inclusion and Exclusion: Among, as well as, besides, between, beyond, inside, instead of, out of, outside, under, within, and without
Exception: Apart from, barring, but for, except (for), save
Contrast: Despite, for all, in spite of
Material: from, of, out of, with

Guidelines to keep in mind while using prepositions for IELTS

Word Groups: The first guidelines to follow for the use of IELTS prepositions are to use them with word groups. The prepositional word groups are:

Verb word groups

When a verb is followed by a sentence, it is usually accompanied by a specific preposition that is always used with that particular verb.

Adjective word groups

Students can use Adjectives in the IELTS exam to describe nouns such as people, places, or things. Adjectives are usually combined with prepositions to connect two nouns or pronouns in a sentence.

Situations: It is important for a candidate to remember the use of prepositions with regard to:

• Time
• Place
• Movement

Preposition Phrases

A prepositional phrase is a group of words that begins with a preposition and ends with a noun or pronoun. It modifies a noun or pronoun in the sentence.

Prepositional phrases can be used to show location, direction, purpose, or relationship. Prepositional phrases can also be used as useful idioms, such as "by the way" and "in the end."

Here are some examples of prepositional phrases:

• In the box
• To the store
• At 10am
• For my coffee
• Of the family
• By the way
• In the end,

Prepositional phrases can be used in a variety of ways to add meaning to applicants sentences. By understanding how to use prepositional phrases correctly, the candidate can ace the IELTS writing task as well as in IELTS speaking.

Additional Tips for Using Prepositions in IELTS

• Candidates must use the right preposition for the meaning they want to convey. For example, they can use the preposition "in" to show that something is inside something else and the preposition "on" to show that something is on top of something else.
• Pay attention to the context of the sentence. The preposition can change depending on the other words in the sentence.
• Consult a dictionary or grammar guide if the candidate is unsure of how to use a preposition. There are many resources available to help one learn the correct usage of prepositions.


Prepositions are of utmost importance in grammar and communication, particularly in the context of IELTS. Acquiring a strong grasp on the use of IELTS prepositions is essential for enhancing both writing and speaking abilities, ultimately leading to better performance in the IELTS examination.

Also read: Mastering Grammar for IELTS : Rules and Guide to follow


Some common prepositions used in IELTS writing are: in, on, at, to, for, with, by, from, etc.
Misusing prepositions is a common mistake that leads to confusion and errors in meaning.
Grammar is the basis of effective communication. Unsuitable grammar can affect the meaning and clarity of the message.
All words, including small grammar words, are considered when counting the word limit in IELTS writing.
Some multi-word verbs consist of a verb and a preposition and are known as prepositional verbs.

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