english lessons

Direction Prepositions

The following prepositions are used to indicate direction. Direction prepositions are special because they show some type of movement. The images below demonstrate the direction of the red ball in relation to the blue object. (Example: The red ball is rolling away from the blue box.) Scroll down for example sentences, usage notes, and direction preposition exercises.

acrossagainstalongaroundaway fromdownfromintooff ofontoout ofoverthroughtotowardsunderup

Direction Preposition Examples

PrepositionExample Sentence
across The red ball bounced across the blue line
against The red ball rolled against the blue box.
along The red ball is rolling along the blue line.
around The red ball is rolling around the blue box.
away fromThe red ball is rolling away from the blue box.
downThe red ball is rolling down the blue stairs.
fromThe red ball is coming from the blue box.
intoThe red ball is bouncing into the blue box.
off of The red ball is rolling off of the blue box.
ontoThe red ball is bouncing onto the blue box.
out ofThe red ball is bouncing out of the blue box.
over The red ball is bouncing over the blue box.
through The red ball is rolling through the hole in the blue box.
toThe red ball is rolling to the blue box.
toward(s)The red ball is rolling towards the blue box.
under The red ball is rolling under the blue box.
up The red ball is rolling up the blue stairs.

Using From, To and Of with Direction Prepositions

In the pictures above, you will notice that some prepositions are followed by an optional from, to or of. If you want to use these prepositions with a location object, you have to use the optional from, to or of. If there is no location object, you do not need to use the optional from, to or of.

Examples:

  • Sherry walked into the house. has object "the house"
  • Sherry walked in. no object
  • Katie jumped out of the boat. has object "boat"
  • Katie jumped out. no object
  • He walked away from me. has object "me"
  • He walked away. no object

Sometimes, native speakers can break the rules!!!

With certain common expressions, we sometimes break the above rule, and we don't use the prepositions from, to or of even when they are followed by objects. In fact, some grammar books argue that off of is wrong! However, you cannot always skip from, to or of. Experience will teach you when and where you can do this.

Examples:

  • Katie jumped off the moving streetcar. common
  • Sherry walked out the door. common
  • Sherry walked out the house. not correct

Adding To or From to Other Direction Prepositions

The prepositions to and from can be added to other direction prepositions to give a more detailed description of whether someone is moving towards or away from something. This is especially common when talking about movement on stairs or hills.

Examples:

  • John walked up to the top of the staircase. John started at the bottom.
  • John walked down from the top of the staircase. John started at the top.
  • John walked down to Mary. John started at the top, and he walked down to Mary who was waiting at the bottom.

Direction Preposition Exercises

Learn English at !