And how can we screw them up?
Prepositions are used every day in the things you say and write, and they are helpful devices that sort out the relationship between a noun and some other word. They are also one of the important eight parts of speech used in the English language. Prepositions are typically placed before the noun or pronoun, and examples of common prepositions include at, in, on, around, above, and near.
If you get confused about what a preposition is and how you can use them, just remember that a preposition describes the what, where or how of a noun. Here are some simple examples of the use of the preposition "above".
"The tree limbed away above the water"
"The airplane flew over the clouds"
Are you a preposition expert yet? Here is another set of examples using the preposition "between".
"The rabbit sat between two logs."
"I stand between the columns"
Ending a Sentence With a Preposition
Preposition errors are not very common for native English speaking people because they become obvious if the Basic English grammar rules are broken. For the rabbit example above, it would be a rare mistake to see something like "The rabbit sat two logs between". However, many people tend to make the mistake of ending a sentence with the preposition "of".
Take the following sentence for example:
"There are a few things to be aware of."
This is an end of sentence preposition and while it is not considered a serious grammar error, many refer to this as a "stranded preposition" and the alternative would be as follows:
"There are a few things of which to be aware."
While the first sentence may cause your grammar check to scold you, the second version sounds very formal for a normal conversation. The origin of the rule that a preposition should come before a noun lies in the origins of the word "preposition" which is made up of "pre" and "position".
Go figure, right?
The key to good writing is that you should try to modify your voice and tone in your writing and make sure it suits your audience. If you are writing an informal blog post or even sales copy, overly-formal language such as the passage shown above may turn your readers off.
Obviously, some there are some situations where placing a preposition at the end of the sentence really does sound very wrong. Most people who utilize English daily can avoid this pitfall, and for the odd chance that you place the word "of" at the end of a sentence, well, that is probably nothing to worry about.