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I've always been interested in the word preposition and at times, had used it correctly. How would one use it?

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Judging from the answer you've accepted, you're more interested in prepositions than in the term itself. –  moioci Sep 21 '10 at 6:39
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1 Answer

up vote 10 down vote accepted

"Simply put, a preposition indicates a relation between things mentioned in a sentence."

For example, in the above sentence, between is a preposition. There's the noun "relation", and the noun "things". The word "between" introduces a relation between them.

Wiktionary defines "preposition" as follows:

A closed class of non-inflecting words typically employed to connect a noun or a pronoun, in an adjectival or adverbial sense, with some other word: a particle used with a noun or pronoun (in English always in the objective case) to make a phrase limiting some other word.

Merriam-Webster says:

Definition of PREPOSITION: a function word that typically combines with a noun phrase to form a phrase which usually expresses a modification or predication

If you are still not quite sure what that all means, there's a list of English prepositions over at Wikipedia.

Also, as Kosmonaut points out in his comment, prepositions usually come before the words they modify — hence the name, "pre" + "position". However, note that there are mechanisms in place that allow prepositions to be "detached" from the words they modify; see, for example, these questions:

You can browse the full list of questions tagged "prepositions" for further insight.

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Also, it is called a preposition because it literally comes in the position before (pre) the noun it modifies (except in some special cases). In languages where the same modifiers come after the noun (e.g. Japanese), these are called postpositions (at least by linguists). –  Kosmonaut Sep 19 '10 at 15:14
    
@Kosmonaut: good point, I've incorporated (some of) it into my answer. (I haven't incorporated it completely, so that you don't have to delete it and can still get credit for it.) –  RegDwigнt Sep 20 '10 at 0:03
    
Sounds good — I think your answer is quite thorough now! –  Kosmonaut Sep 20 '10 at 0:49
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