Prepositions of location and direction

Here are some useful ways to describe where things are.


Two things can be next to each other. (For example, A is next to B in the alphabet.)

One thing can be between (or in between) two other things. (For example, B is between A and C in the alphabet.)

One thing can be near another. For example, London is near Oxford.

The opposite of near is far from. For example, Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is far from London.

One thing can be opposite another thing. If you are sitting face to face with another person, then you are sitting opposite that person.

If you are in a queue, someone can be behind you (so you are before that person) and someone can be in front of you (so you are behind that person).

One thing can be on another thing. For example, my computer is on my desk.

One thing can be under another thing. For example, I have a mousepad under my mouse.

Below means a lower level. In a group of four football teams (team A, team B, team C and team d), team C are below team B.

Above means on a higher level. Team A are above Team B, and team B is above team C.

On top of means that something is physically located above another thing.
For example, there is a pile of things on my desk. First, there is a newspaper. On top of the newspaper there is a book. On top of the book is a cup of coffee.

At the top means that something is located at the highest point. “We’re pleased that she is at the top of her class for English.”

At the bottom means that something is located at the lowest point. “We’re not pleased that she is at the bottom of her class for Maths.”


Across means on the other side. “I live at no 1, London Road. Across from me (on the other side of the road) is no 2, London Road.”

“Go across the road.” (=cross the road)

Walk along the river. (follow the river)

Walk by the river. (walk near the river)

Walk beside the river. (walk next to the river)

Go up the stairs.

Go down the stairs.

(You can also walk up or down a road or street.)

Go through the tunnel. (You go in one side, then you come out on the other side.)

Go straight on (at a crossroads or a roundabout).

Go round the corner.

Walk around a town. (Walk in a circle, or in a random pattern.)

Go past something – walk past something so that it then is behind you.

Go over something – go over / cross the railway line.

Now test your understanding with our grammar exercise!