Prepositions are tricky little things, when you think about it. When I was min eighth grade, my English teacher has us all draw a “Preposition Mountain.” Basically, me having very limited drawing skills at the time, I had to draw a hill with little stick people all over it to illustrate the prepositions. “On the mountain,” “up the mountain,” “over the mountain,” “beneath the mountain,” etc. Before that, I don’t recall ever really thinking much about prepositions at all.

The first time I realized how tricky prepositions really were was when I tutoring ESL student at my university and one of them asked me “What does ‘at’ mean?”

Prepositions went on to be a big problem with those students, and every student I’ve had since. Think about it: the only difference between doing something kind and “cooking for your mother” and preparing meal for unknown cannibals is the little preposition “for.”

For the college students I tutored, location was the frustrating thing. After they kept saying “The bus stop on the university” I corrected them and told them it was “at.” I even drew them a picture.


The next time, they said “When we got at the bus.”

“At?” I said. “On the bus, not at the bus.”

“Teacher!” said one of the students, drawing a quick picture, “Not on, at!”



3 thoughts on “Prepositions

  1. I recall a discussion on adverbs in an local dialect in western Austria, when I ended up confused, since their dialect prepositions sound all the same to me…
    And yes, while some uses of prepositions make sense, others actually don’t at all and have historic (or whichever) reasons. Funny, how we never notice this stuff in our native languages but as soon as we try to learn another one or teach our own we realize how much language is actually about conventions and “it has been said like this since forever, I don’t know why”.

    And such adorable ducks again!
    In Germany, now is the time of ducklings. Those cute babies are everywhere <3. I can't get enough of watching those yellowish-brown balls of fuzzy feathers and shear joy ❤


    • Awww, I love little ducklings. My family used to get a few every spring and raise them.

      The difficulty with prepositions was that the students were always asking “Is it a rule?” and it usually isn’t. They wanted to use one preposition for time, one for location, etc, so the idea that “On Tuesdays at 5 o’clock in January” uses three prepositions to refer to time really boggled their minds.
      And then the fact that we get “in” a car or truck but “on” a bus, boat or airplane…

      Liked by 1 person

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