Prepositions and Conjunctions: Introduction
While a lot of us can define prepositions and conjunctions with a simple definition, some of us can find it quite difficult to master the skill of using both parts of speech appropriately in a sentence. For most people, ‘grammar is for school’, but for us, the writers and those who think grammar is important, it is now the time to incorporate what we learned all those years.
If you are someone who is a writer, you must have found a lot of novel writing software or other digital writing assistant software that marks parts of your sentences as an error or suggests improvements.
However, although you are someone who appreciates or respects grammatically correct and appropriate sentences but are still making those silly writing mistakes, perhaps it’s time to refresh the memory with this guide or a few tips.
After this article, I am hoping you will start correcting mistakes that are either termed as silly in the writing community or are simply not used these days.
Prepositions and conjunctions do have a similarity – they both are used to express relationships. This is a reason why both are often confused with each other. Apart from that, the rest of the aspects are different, which will be shown below separately.
First, let’s focus on the concept of prepositions and conjunctions, then we will move ahead to the classifications and finally, some rules and tricks for you to use in your daily or professional life.
But remember, there are exceptions to some rules. Some are mentioned in relevant cases.
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Similarities and Differences
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As I already talked about expressing relationships by using a preposition, here I’ll show that a preposition is a word that is used to link a noun or a pronoun to the rest of the sentence.
One of the easiest and common terms used to explain prepositions is
“Prepositions go anywhere a cat can go”.
Although this is quite a common fun fact, it hasn’t stopped being true.
- The cat is in the car.
- The cat is under the car.
- The cat is on the table.
- The cat is behind the car.
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Preposition of direction: When someone or something is headed for or is directed to somewhere. Few examples of the preposition of direction are into, on, onto, through, to, toward.
Preposition of place/position: Where someone or something is situated or located. Few examples are in, at, on.
Preposition of time: Used for a time period, like for years, months, morning, etc. Few examples are in, at, by, since, till, from, past, before, after.
Preposition of agent: Here, a preposition works as a connection between a noun and a verb. Few examples are by, with.
Preposition of instruments/devices: Here, the noun is mostly a device or a machine that has a connection to other parts of the sentence. Few examples include by, with, on.
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Rules and tricks
Prepositions, along with conjunctions, can be such a vast topic under grammar, that you will keep finding new things each time. To properly use them in a sentence, let us focus on some rules or tricks so we can use them in our sentences correctly without having to go in-depth into the topic.
A simple rule to start with is that a preposition brings a noun or a pronoun.
- A preposition always has an object. If it doesn’t, it is not a preposition.
- I must finish my shopping before the lockdown (here before is a preposition).
- I have tried running before (here before is not a preposition).
- Prepositions, as the name suggests, are ‘pre-positioned’. That is placed before the object.
- I am going out in the sun (the sun is the object).
A preposition is followed by a noun or a pronoun and never with a verb. Well, except the verb is in its gerund form. Other than this, there are no exceptions.
- I paid the server by cash (the server is the noun here)
- After waiting for hours in line, finally I received the ticket. (waiting is a gerund)
- If a pronoun is following a preposition, it should be in object form.
- He had the gift delivered to her. (her is a prepositional pronoun)
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A language doesn’t necessarily need conjunctions, but then let us use brief and simple sentences that do not help carry out meaningful communication. If you are interested and curious about learning conjunctions, it is probably because you want to go beyond just conversations.
Conjunctions help create complex and sophisticated sentences that express connections between actions and ideas.
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Coordinating conjunctions: They join two sentences or clauses which are of same syntatic importance. There are 7 of them only and remembered by the term FANBOYS.
F – for, A – and, N – nor, B – but, O – or, Y – yet, S – so.
Subordinating conjunctions: They are parts of speech that link a dependent clause to an independent clause.
- He didn’t travel by bus today. His bus didn’t arrive today.
- He didn’t travel by bus today as his bus didn’t arrive.
Correlative conjunctions: They are always used in pairs to join words, phrases, or clauses. Some examples of them are either..or, neither..nor, both..and, not only..but also.
Conjunctive adverbs: They are used to connect one clause to another. There are used with a semicolon in the sentence. Some examples of them are, however, accordingly, in fact, therefore, besides, instead.
- Jack is my friend and my mentor; in fact, he’s like my elder brother.
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Rules and tricks
Here’s a very interesting sentence, that brings the conjunction ‘because’, thrice in the sentence, consecutively. The sentence goes like this,
‘No sentence can end with ‘because’ because ‘because’ is a conjunction’.
Now let’s learn how and when to use them is a sentence.
- The conjunction both is always followed by and or of.
- Both Meera and her colleagues are responsible for success.
- The conjunction as is used for comparison in both affirmative and negative sentences.
- I am not as tall as her.
- I am not so creative as him.
- Remember to use the correct pairs like Not only…but also, No sooner…than
- Applying sunscreen every day not only protects your skin from sun rays but also helps build collagen.
- Conjunctions like until, unless, lest are negative words, hence do not use other negative words like, no, never, with these clauses. Lest is always followed by should or the first form of the verb.
I must study hard lest I should fail.
- The conjunction between is followed by and and from is followed by to.
You should know the difference between a good apple and a bad apple.
I used to take the bus from school to home.
Another important point you should remember is that most of the words can be both prepositions and conjunctions, but when used in a sentence differently they carry out different functions.
Let’s understand this with an example:
- She has been lying to me since last year now. (Here, since is a preposition)
- She has been lying to me since she felt it would make me angry. (Here, since is a conjunction)
While this article doesn’t talk about all the rules of prepositions and conjunctions, it, however, talks about the most commonly used rules one must remember.
Practice makes perfect. If you are learning American English or British English, the rules of grammar are the same. Reading novels and daily newspapers is the best way to learn a language.