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Prepositions cannot be distinguished by any formal features. A list of prepositions will illustrate this point:  
      across, after, at, before, by, during, from, in, into, of, on, to, under, with, without 
We can, say, however, that prepositions typically come before a noun:  
across town 
after class 
at home 
before Tuesday 
by Shakespeare
for lunch 
in London 
on fire 
to school 
with pleasure
The noun does not necessarily come immediately after the preposition, however, since determiners and adjectives can intervene:  
      after the storm  
      on white horses  
      under the old regime 
Whether or not there are any intervening determiners or adjectives, prepositions are almost always followed by a noun. In fact, this is so typical of prepositions that if they are not followed by a noun, we call them "stranded" prepositions:  
Stranded Preposition
John talked about the new film  This is the film John talked about

Prepositions are invariable in their form, that is, they do not take any inflections.  

Identify all the prepositions in the following extract.  

Click on the words that you think are prepositions; they will appear in the box below. You don't have to type anything but you can click in the box to edit your answers if you need to. 
Dorothy Gilman attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1940 to 1945, the University of Pennsylvania, the Moore Institute of Art, and the Arts Students' League from 1963 to 1964. She worked as an instructor of drawing in adult evening school for two years at the Samuel Fleisher Art Memorial. She has also worked as a switchboard operator for the American Bell Telephone Company, and as an instructor in creative writing at Cherry Lawn School, Darien, Connecticut, from 1969 to 1970.


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