across / through
Across is movement from one side of an area, surface, or line to the other side.
Through is movement from one side of an enclosed space to the other side.
Sometimes, either ACROSS or THROUGH can be used for areas:
- We walked across the park.
= We walked through the park.
- They drove across the city.
= They drove through the city.
along / around
Along is to follow a line.
Around is to go in a circular direction around some obstacle.
into / out of
Into is to go from outside a space to inside a space.
Out of is to go from inside a space to outside a space.
onto / off
Onto and off refer to surfaces, differently from into / out of (which refer to enclosed spaces):
- The dog jumped onto the table.
The dog jumped into the table.
- I took the picture off the wall.
I took the picture out of the wall.
up / down
Go up and go down can also be used for “increase” and “decrease,” in addition to physical movement.
- The price of food has gone up in the past two years.
- The number of children per family has gone down.
over / under
To go over is to pass above something.
To go under is to pass below something.
towards / away from
If you go towards something, you get closer to it.
If you go away from something, you get farther away from it.
“Back to” is movement of return to a place you have been before:
- He went to Italy.
(maybe for the first time)
- He went back to Italy.
(it is the second time, or he is from Italy)
- He went back Italy.
(this form is incorrect)