Prepositions vs Conjunctions

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AUTHORED BY: Surjeet Dalal @GeekDalal

Surjeet Dalal @GeekDalal

Content Strategist
Educator, Career Counselor & Lifelong Learner

Prepositions used as conjunctions and vice-versa

Prepositions and conjunctions, both are very essential parts of speech. It is quite easy to understand if they are learnt independently. But in certain cases, the user is not able to make out whether a given word has been used as a preposition or a conjunction. So, it becomes very significant to ascertain the proper use of a given part of speech. The topic in hand intends to discuss and find out a few words which generally appear as preposition on their faces, but they can be very much used as conjunctions, and vice-versa. Examples of such prepositions and conjunctions that are used interchangeably are: till, until, before, after, but, for, since and without etc.

Before going into further details, let us once again recollect what exactly prepositions and conjunctions are.

Prepositions are generally short words that have a noun or a pronoun after them as their objects. For a word to function as a preposition, it must be followed by a noun or an equivalent expression (along with qualifiers).

On the other hand, conjunctions join similar kinds of parts of speech or constructions. For example, a conjunction joins a noun / pronoun with another noun / pronoun, an adjective with another adjective, an adverb with another adverb and a phrase with another phrase and a clause with another clause. As far as utility is concerned, conjunctions are more versatile than prepositions.

In order to find out whether a given word has been used as a preposition or conjunction, the word or group of words that follow the word to be tested must be closely looked at. If a word that looks like a preposition and is followed by a clause, it is invariably a conjunction. On the other hand, if the word is followed directly by a noun or a pronoun, it is a preposition (this noun / pronoun must not function as subject of the verb / clause that follows it).

Let us look at a few examples in order to clarify the topic under discussion.

I have brought all the books but one.

I have brought all the books but I forgot to bring one.

We went for a walk after dinner.

We went for a walk after we had taken a dinner.

Tom stood in the line before me.

Tom had completed his task before going out of the house.

We reached home before it began to rain.

Please wait for a few minutes for me.

Please work hard for you have very less time.

She went out without taking her purse with her.

She went out without her purse.

John works here as a teacher.

We must hurry up as we have to catch the early train.

This class shall continue till 4:00 p.m.

This class shall continue till it is 4:00 p.m.

You have to wait until sunrise.

You have to wait until the sun rises.

In the above examples, pay attention to the words in bold letters (both underlined as well as not underlined).  On careful observation, it can be easily made out that the words in bold letters and not underlined, are followed directly by a noun or a pronoun. These words in bold letters are prepositions, where the nouns and pronouns placed after them serve as objects of respective prepositions.

On the other hand, the underlined words in bold letters are followed by clauses or phrases that invariably contain a verb, and join these phrases and clauses with remaining part of the sentence. Since they join similar parts, the underlined words in bold letters are conjunctions.

The presence of a verb (in any form except the gerundial infinitive) after a word that looks like a preposition is sufficient proof to assert that the word under consideration is not a preposition.

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Tags Prepositions Grammar Conjunctions

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