Prepositions of Movement in English

across / through

Across is movement from one side of an area, surface, or line to the other side.

Prepositions - Across

I drew a line ACROSS the paper.

Through is movement from one side of an enclosed space to the other side.

Prepositions - Across and through

The baseball went THROUGH the window.

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.

Prepositions of Movement in English: Around and Along

Difference between ALONG and AROUND


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.

Prepositions of Movement in English - Into

The cat went into the box.

Prepositions of Movement in English - Out of

The cat jumped out of the box.


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

Prepositions in English Up Down

Going up the stairs / Going down the stairs

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.

Prepositions in English - Over and Under

Prepositions in English – Over and Under


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.

Prepositions of Movement in English - Towards

The dog is running towards me.

Prepositions of Movement in English - Away from

The boy is running away from me.


back to

“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)

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