Preposition Review

Teacher
Teacher. Hero Images / Getty Images

Prepositions is a challenge for almost all students. There are many reasons for this, not least of which is the fact that English has numerous phrasal verbs. In this case, there's little to do except to encourage consistency and the ability to listen carefully to mistakes made. In any case, there are a few activities teachers can undertake to help students learn basic differences.

  • Aim: Develop recognition of similar preposition use through contrast in written exercise, review of prepositions
  • Activity: Discussion of similar preposition followed by a written exercise
  • Level: Intermediate

Outline

  • Take a few objects into the class, such as a model car, an apple, etc. use simple sentences to help the class understand the differences between in/into, out/out of, etc. using the propositions.
  • Give the students some of the objects and encourage them to come up with their own sentences, especially focusing on the finer differences between the prepositions discussed.
  • Discuss some of the basics using the preposition checklist below. Ask students to come up with exceptions such as 'in the morning, afternoon, and evening' but 'at night'. 
  • Pass out the handout and ask students to get into pairs to work through the short exercise.
  • Correct worksheet as a class and discuss problems or questions.
  • Repeat first activity to help reinforce learning.

Preposition Checklist

  • Use 'at' with places within a city with verbs that do NOT express movement. I'll meet you at the shopping mall./I like to relax at home on the weekend.
  • Use 'on' with surfaces, both horizontal and vertical. That's a beautiful picture on the wall./I like the vase on the table.
  • Use 'into', 'out of' and 'onto' to express movement from one place to another. She drove out of the garage./Please put the keys onto the table. 
  • Use 'in' with months, years, cities, states, and countries. She lives in San Diego./I will see you in April.
  • Use 'at' with times of day. Let's meet at five o'clock./I want to begin the meeting at two. 

A Strange Noise in the Night ...

It was late (at/in) night when I heard the noise. I got (out of/outside) bed and decided to investigate. First, I went (into/in) the living room and kitchen. Everything seemed to be OK in those rooms. Then I heard the noise (again/over). It was coming from (out/outside), so I put (on/off) my jacket, opened the door and went (into/out of) the backyard. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to (pick up/in) a flashlight on my way (inside/out) the door. It was a dark night and there was a light rain falling. I couldn't see much, so I kept stepping (into/onto) things in the yard. The sound continued to repeat and was coming (over/from) the area (on/in) the other side (to/of) the house. I slowly walked (through/around) the house to see what was making the noise. There was a small table (in/on) the porch which was (next/near) to the wall. (On/To) top of this table was a bowl with some rocks (into/inside). A small mouse was trying to get (out/above) and was moving the rocks (around/through) the bowl making the noise.

It was very strange, but now I could go back (in/to) sleep!