by Marc Anderson

How to Use Important Parts of Speech – Prepositions, Conjunctions and Interjections

boy in rain

First, let’s look at prepositions and conjunctions. These are relationship words that are used to connect parts of sentences. What exactly are these types of speech and their role in the English language? Knowing a little bit more about their use will help you on your way to mastering the English language and gaining confidence every step of the way. This is a long list so feel free to read part of it now and when you have time, you can read the rest. BTW, if you would like to review other parts of speech, you can start with pronouns, adjectives and adverbs, articles.

Prepositions

A preposition is followed by a nominal which can be a noun, pronoun, gerund phrase or noun clause. We say that this is a prepositional phrase. It helps describe and clarify the preposition.

Examples:  (note the prepositions in bold and the prepositional phrases in italics)

The Jones family went to the beach because of the hot weather.

He walked the dog around the block before leaving home

My friend, after what he had done, did not want to show up for work.

There are over 150 prepositions in the English languages. I should know. When I was in 7th grade, my English teacher made us memorize them. All of them. At the time most of us did not really appreciate this assignment. But it did teach us to identify prepositions. It made us aware of how often these words are used in everyday speech and in writing. In fact, the prepositions of, to and in are among the ten most frequent words used in the English language. I have listed the more common prepositions. Many of these words have more than one meaning. I should know. When I was in 7th grade, my English teacher made us memorize them. All of them.

Aboard – on or into a ship, aircraft, train or other vehicle

The captain shouted, “All aboard the ship!” Then the ship left the harbor.

About – almost; reasonably close to

The project is about to be finished.

Above – in or to a higher place; in or to a higher rank or number; above zero

The average temperature of this month is above normal.

Across – from one side to the other; through; on or to the opposite side

There is a bridge right across the river.

After – at a later time; in quest of; or pursuit of

After a while, the train arrived.

Our school’s football team is after an undefeated season.

Against – in opposition to; in competition with

We are all against the decision made by the president.

Two teams are competing against each other.

Along – on a line or course parallel and close to; in accordance with; continuously beside

The highway runs along the river.

The vote was split along the party lines.

Amid – in the middle of; surrounded by

I couldn’t hear what my brother was saying to me amid the loud cheering.

Among – in or through; in the presence of

Our house was built among many trees.

Anti – one that is opposed to

He has been anti Government.

Around – in a circle or in circumference

The baseball player ran around the bases.

As – to the same degree or amount; for instance

I just saw her as I turned the corner.

At – used to indicate the place where someone or something is

We stayed at that hotel last week.

Before – at an earlier time; in advance

Let’s get the show on the road before the storm.

Behind – in or toward the back; in the place that someone is going away from

We got in line behind the statue.

Below – in or to a lower place; in or to a lower rank of number

The speeding truck rolled off the cliff and fell to the river bank below the highway.

Beneath – in or to a lower position; directly under

The water beneath the ice is still flowing.

Beside – by the side of; not relevant to

Come, run beside me.

Besides – other than (something or someone); in addition to (something)

We should learn Latin besides English and Spanish.

Between – by the common action of; in common to; in the time; from one to another

They shared the workload between the two departments.

Beyond – on or to the farther side; in addition

From the lighthouse, we can see the Lake Michigan and the sand dunes beyond the waves.

But – except for the fact; if not; on the other hand

There is no one here, but me.

By – near; in the direction of; not later than

Please put this dish by the cooking pan.

You must get there by 2:00 p.m.

Concerning – regarding

We have to establish some kind of policy concerning the age and gender.

Considering – in view of; taking into account

The little girl did a super job considering her young age.

Despite – in spite of; notwithstanding

            We had to continue our journey despite the bad weather.

Down – toward or in a lower physical position

What is happening down there?

During – throughout the duration of

Do not lose your focus during the performance.

Except – not including; other than

The school gym will be open daily except Sundays.

Excepting – with the exception of

The wildfire destroyed all houses excepting those behind the hill.

Excluding – to prevent from entering; keep out

The lump sum money excluding the surcharge has been paid to the customer.

Following – immediately after; subsequent to

Following the practice, there was a brief interview session.

For – used as a function word to indicate purpose, intended goal, desire, or activity

Our club just finished writing a grant for assisting homeless people in the city.

From – used to indicate the starting point of a physical movement or action

It is about two miles from here to the end of this path.

In – used to indicate location or position within something

We put all items in the storage room.

Inside – in or into the inner part of (something or someone); within the borders of limits of (something); before the end of (a period of time)

Please wait for me inside that building.

Into – to the inside; to the state, condition, or for of; against

We ran into our best friends at the picnic.

Like – similar to; similarly to; typical of; inclined to; such as

My sister’s favorite subjects were science classes like physics and chemistry.

Minus – diminished by; less; lacking; without

It would have been a great time minus the noise.

Near – close to

The new house was near the gas station.

Of – from; having a significant background or character element; owing to; belonging to; connected to; before

That dog was from the same breed of dogs as my last dog.

Off – away from; from; at the expense of; abstaining from

The cottage was just off the highway in the mountains.

On – to a position over and in contact with; at; aboard; during or at the time of; in a state of’ used to indicate a basis; with regard to; at or toward an object

The lamp was on the table.

Onto – to a position or point on

The row boat was tied onto the dock.

Opposite – across from and usually facing

The house opposite our house was quite new.

Outside – beyond the limits; except; on or to the out side of

The ball hit outside the goal posts so there was no score.

Over – above or in position of authority; more than

The new boat was over the price I had expected to pay.

Past – beyond

She went past the post office, but she forgot to mail the letter.

Per – by means of; to; for each; according to

The wood flooring would cost $2.00 per square foot section.

Plus – increased by; with the addition of

The house mortgage plus the car insurance payments need to be deducted each month.

Regarding – concerning

This morning a lady called me regarding the electrical bill.

Round – around

The dog ran round the yard to catch the cat.

Save – except

There was nothing left in the house save the attached ceiling light.

Since – in the period after; continuously; from the time after

There were no more announcements since that one.

Than – in comparison with

That tree is older than the other trees!

Through – into at one side and out the other; by way of; among; over; in

The short cut to school was through the park.

To – in the direction of; toward; on; against

The letter was addressed to all of us.

Toward – in the direction of; along the course leading to; in regard to; facing

She was looking forward toward the weekend.

Towards – in the direction of; along the course leading to; in regard to; facing

He ran towards the open spot to score the goal.

Under – lower than; subject to the authority, action or guidance of

His position in the company was under the direction of the IT Director.

Underneath – directly under; under subjection to

The wool sweater underneath the down jacket kept the skier warm.

Unlike – different from; unusually like

The ending of the book was unlike any other ending.

Until – up to the time of

I worked on my paper until night.

Up – to, toward, at a higher point

The car traveled up the winding road to the park.

Upon – on

Once upon a time, there lived a wicked witch in the forest.

Versus – against; in contrast to; in competition with

It would be the boys versus the girls for the mile run.

Via – by way of

The goods were shipped via the Panama Canal.

With – against; from; in the company of; compared to

The student constantly argued the debate with confidence.

Within – inside the limits; in the inner part

The fee for the added course is within my budget.

Without – outside; lacking

Losing her job, she was without hope.

Conjunctions

Conjunctions are words used to connect clauses or sentences. They can also be used to coordinate words in the same clause.

I know what you are thinking and you are right. My 7th grade teacher had us memorize these, too. Following are the most common 25 conjunctions and their meanings.

And – along and together with; in addition; repeatedly

My boyfriend took me to a movie and to dinner.

That – the following; namely; also

He said that he would finish the report tonight.

But – other than; except for the fact

I wanted to go to Hawaii over the holidays, but the airfare was too high.

Or – used to indicate an alternative

For my birthday my husband said he would take me out to dinner or to the movies.

As – in the same way; in the same amount or degree; equally; for instance; while, when

I turned off the light as I went out the door.

If – in the event that; whether; even though

My daughter could have gotten better grades if she studied harder.

When – at or during the time; every time; in the event

I remember the first time I met you when you took me to the ballgame.

Than – in comparison with

No adults are invited to the party other than the parents of the school children.

Because – for the reason or by the reason that

We needed to rake the leaves, because the snow was coming soon.

While – happening at the same time

I unpacked the car while my husband started the fire in the cabin’s fireplace.

Where – at, in or to the place of direction, situation or direction

It was our first house where we would live for 20 years.

After – afterward; subsequently; later than; following the time

The children ate ice cream after they finished their dinner.

So – thus; finally; therefore

It was not necessary to pay the bills today, so I waited until next week.

Though – however; nevertheless; despite the fact

I cleaned the house, though I did not clean the garage.

Since – from a past time; from a period until now; from the time when; because

The neighbors were busy, since they just moved in from out of town.

Until – up to the time of

The dinner was all set, but I couldn’t heat up the rolls until the guests arrived.

Whether –if it is or was true; if it is or was better; whichever is or was the case; either

She received two job offers and she did not know whether to take the job at the bank or the law firm.

Before – earlier than the time; more willing than

James went to the local college before he was offered a scholarship for the school in the next town.

Although – in spite of the fact; even though

He served in the Army, although I think his first choice was the Navy.

Nor – usually preceded by neither to mean and not

I decided to eat healthier, so I ordered neither the fries nor the dessert.

Like – used to compare or show similarities to

It was a beautiful tree to plant, like the tree my grandmother had in her front yard.

Once – referring to the first time

I learned how to sail, once I had the time.

Unless – except on condition

It would be good to invest that money, unless you think it would be better to put in our savings account.

Now – refers to the present time

I wanted to study online English, now that the children were in school.

Except – without; also; only

The mall was full of people, except for that one coffee shop.

Some words function as both prepositions and conjunctions

There are some words that can be prepositions and conjunctions like before, after and until. How the word is used in the sentence dictates the part of speech.

Interjections

Interjections are abrupt remarks made as an aside or interruption. They are used to express emotion. They can be used by themselves and often followed by an exclamation mark, or at the start of a sentence or within a sentence, separated by a comma. Hey, don’t even ask. Yup, we learned those, too. These are the ten most common interjections. Believe me, I know. There are alternate spellings for many interjections and you can repeat some of the letters to draw out the emotion.

Wow – expressing astonishment or admiration

Wow, the sound effects of that movie were unbelievable!”

Yes, uh, ha, yeah, yah, yuh-uh, huh-uh – expressing affirmation or responding to something in question or to something good happening

Yes! I made the cuts for the volleyball team!”

Oh, ohh – expressing surprise

Oh, I found the ring I lost last year.”

No, nah, uh-oh, uh-uh – expressing something negative or responding to something bad happening

No!  Don’t run across the street without looking!”

Hey – expressing to get attention

“Hey, do you want to go to the mall?”

Hi, hello – expressing a greeting

Hi! How are you?”

By, Bye, Bye-bye. Good-by, Good-bye – expressing departure; concluding remark at departure

“See you tomorrow!” “Yeah, bye!”

Hmm– expressing thinking or hesitation

Hmm, I’m not so sure about the weather report.”

Ah expressing a wide range of emotions:  realization, delight, relief, regret, contempt, sympathy

Ah! I see how that television works!”

Hey! There are more! Yeah!

Additional interjections include aha, ahem, argh, aw, bah, boo, brr, duh, eek, eh, eww, gah, gee, grr, humph, huh, hurrah, ich, meh, ool-la-la, oomph, oopps, ow, pew, pff, phew, psst, sheesh, shh, shoo, tsk, wee, whoa, yahoo, you-hoo, yuck, and zing. You might even know some more to add. Have you heard or used any that aren’t on the list? Do you have a favorite or two?

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Write to me in the comments section below and let me know your thoughts. Do you know any additional examples of prepositions, conjunctions or interjections? How is your English coming? I am confident that you can master it with practice and dedication.  Let me know about your language study and if I can help you with online English instruction or any questions you might have. As always, it would be great to hear from you. I know.

About the author:

Marc Anderson is the co-founder and CEO of TalktoCanada. Since founding the company in 2006, he has grown it to over 25 staff with operations in 50 countries. Marc spends his time outside of TalktoCanada travelling, playing with his son and working on new business projects.