Different types of preposition are frequently categorized based on the information they provide or on their structure. In terms of information, there are three major types: time, which relays information about when something happens; place, which is used to show where something is; and direction that indicates where something is going or happening. There are other kinds such as manner, which provides information about how something happened, and prepositions that indicate what caused an event. Some kinds of preposition are based on the number of words used to make it; simple ones are only a single word, while compound are two or three words in length.
There are three basic types of preposition most commonly used in the English language. Those indicative of time include "by," "on," and "at" and are used with dates and times. For example, the sentence "I met him on Wednesday," uses the preposition "on" to indicate the date the meeting occurred. Specific times can also be indicated in this way, such as "The movie starts at noon."
Other types of preposition are used to indicate the place of an object or event. For example, in the sentence "My keys are on the table," the word "on" is being used to show "place," even though it previously indicated time. Many words can be used as different kinds of preposition, depending on the context of the sentence. Other ones that indicate place include "in" and "under."
There are also common prepositions that provide information about direction. In the sentence, "I went to the store," the word "to" is used in this way. Common words that indicate direction include "toward" and "into," which frequently provide information about where something is going or heading.
Still other kinds of preposition include ones that indicate manner and cause. The manner or way in which something happens is provided in a sentence like "We traveled here by helicopter," in which "by" shows the way in which the traveling was done. Cause is also frequently illustrated through the preposition "by," such as in "He was hit by the ball," or "This poem was written by my teacher."
There are also different types of preposition based on the structure in which it is formed. Single words are referred to as simple, and the previous examples were all of this type. Compound prepositions are formed by two or three words that are used together as a single idea. For example, the phrase "on top of" is a compound preposition of place that can be used in much the same way as "on."