To, from, of, for, over, under, on, near, at, by, in, among, before, behind, up, down Pray, who is the owner of all these little creatures?" said Judge Grammar, the next day. "Mr. Noun, are they yours?"

"No, indeed, my lord," answered Mr. Noun, "they are not the names of anyone or anything that I ever heard of."

"Dr. Verb, are they yours?"

"I should not object to having them, my lord," answered Dr. Verb, "if I could do anything with them; but they seem to me neither to be nor to do, nor to suffer any..."

"That will do," interrupted the Judge, afraid that Dr. Verb was beginning one of his long speeches. "Mr. Adjective, do you claim them?"

"They do not qualify anything, my lord," answered Adjective; "indeed, they seem to me poor, useless, silly, little..."

"We do not want you to qualify them, thank you," said the Judge, "but to tell us if they are yours. Article, we know, has only a or an and the, so they cannot be his. Mr. Pronoun, do they belong to you?"

"No, my lord," answered Pronoun. "As Mr. Noun has nothing to say to them, neither have I. They do not stand instead of any name."

"Well," said the Judge, "we know they do not belong to that tiresome little Interjection. Are they yours, Adverb?"

"1 should be extremely glad to have them, my lord," answered Adverb, smoothly washing his hands, as usual. "I have no doubt I could make them exceedingly useful..."

"That is not what I asked," said the Judge; "are they yours?"

"I cannot say they are exactly mine," said Adverb; but..."

"That is all we want to know," interrupted the Judge. Then raising his voice, he continued: "If there is anyone in this court to whom these words, 'to, from, of, for,' etc., do belong, let him come forward."

At these words, a sharp, dapper little fellow stepped forward, and looking around the court with a triumphant air, exclaimed, "They belong to me."

"And who are you?"

"Preposition, my lord. My position is just before a noun or pronoun. My words point out to them their proper position. I keep them in order."

"You keep them in order?" said Judge Grammar, looking down at him through his spectacles; "how can a little mite like you keep Mr. Noun in order?"

"Little or big, my lord, that's what I do," said Preposition. "I settle the position of everyone and everything, and show whether they are to be on or under, to or from, up or down."

"Kindly forgive me for interrupting you," said Adverb, coming forward. "I really must remark that up and down are my words."

"How do you make out that?" asked the Judge.

"I will show you directly, my lord," answered Adverb. "By the help of my questions how, when, and where, which, you know, I alone can answer. If you say, 'sit up,' I ask, 'how am I to sit?' The answer is, 'up.' 'Lie down;' 'how am I to lie?' The answer is, 'down' Up and down, therefore, answer to my question how, and are mine."

"Stop a minute," said Preposition. "I also can answer to your favorite questions how, when, and where. Listen:

"Really,'" said Adverb, smiling politely, "that is very cleverly done. But allow me to make just one remark. You have not answered one single question without the help of some other part of speech. Mr. Noun has helped you with 'sugar,' 'dinner,' 'tea,' 'lap,' 'table;' Mr. Adjective lent you 'blue;' Mr. Pronoun, 'my;' and so on. Now I, without any help, answer the questions quite alone."

"You cannot expect a little fellow like me to stand quite alone," said Preposition; "I don't pretend to do it. I told you at first that my right position is before a noun or pronoun, or some such word. All I mean is that I help to answer the questions, and that neither Mr. Noun nor Mr. Pronoun could answer them without me."

"Is that true, Brother Parsing?" asked the Judge.

"Quite true, my lord," answered the learned Serjeant. "When I find the questions 'how?' 'when?' or 'where?' answered by one word alone, I put that word down to Adverb. Hut when I find them answered by Mr. Noun or Mr. Pronoun, helped by another little word, then I know that that other little word belongs to Preposition."

"Yes, my lord," continued Preposition; "so if you say 'up a ladder' or 'down a hill,' up and down are mine; they show your position on the ladder or the hill; they are the little prepositions put before Mr. Noun's words ladder and hill. But, of course, if you were to ask how I am to step up or down f then Adverb could call up and down adverbs, because they are added on to the verb 'step,' and they have nothing to do with a noun or a pronoun."

"Precisely," said Adverb; "my friend Preposition is perfectly correct. I immensely admire my young friend, although he does not move in quite so select a circle as myself."

"Don't I?" said Preposition, with a knowing little nod. "I think Mr. Noun quite as good company as Dr. Verb, any day. Besides, even grand Dr. Verb is glad enough to have my little to to put before his verbs. When he makes up his 'songs,' as he calls them, he always puts my little to before the name at the top. He is glad enough to have it to point out his verbs, and does not despise me at all, though I do not stick on to him like a leech, as some people do; and Preposition nodded his head very fast a great many times at Adverb.

"Dr. Verb does not agree with you, though," remarked Pronoun, quietly.

"No," said Preposition, "I do not alter for him, nor he for me. But he does not agree with Adverb either. Poor Adverb agrees with nobody, and nobody agrees with him; and he, poor fellow! cannot govern anybody, either. Now I govern every noun or pronoun that I come before, for I put them in the Objective Case."

"I object," cried the Judge. "I will not have that word brought into court. I said so before, and I say so again. Nominative Case is bad enough, but Objective Case is enough to turn a brown wig grey in a single night. Break up the court! Critics, clear the room!"

And Judge Grammar rose hastily from his seat, and stalked angrily out, while all the Parts-of-Speech stood looking speechlessly at each other till the policemen came, bundled them all out, and locked the doors behind them.

In spite of the hurry, however, Serjeant Parsing managed to hand up to the people of Schoolroom-shire the following verses, begging the ladies and gentlemen there to find out all the prepositions in them, and to count how many lines there are in which Preposition has nothing to say.

Serjeant Parsing's verses may be found in the Lesson Guide.


Over the two weeks:

  • Read or review the lesson each week.
  • Complete the assigned enrichment activities for each week.


Meet dapper little Preposition, owner of a selection of little words such as to, from, and for. A preposition defines a relationship between the noun/platform that precedes it and another word in the sentence. Examples of prepositions include on, in, under, off, over, to, by, about, after, behind, and during.


Activity - Week 1: Find and Tally the Prepositions

Find and tally the prepositions in Serjeant Parsing's Verse.


  • Beside a bluebell on the heath,
  • Among the purple heather,
  • A fairy lived, and crept beneath
  • The leaves in windy weather.
  • ***
  • She drank the dewdrops from the stalk,
  • See peeped into the flower;
  • And then she went to take a walk,
  • Or ride for half-an-hour.
  • ***
  • She rode upon a cricket's back,
  • She came before the Queen,
  • The fairy Queen, with all her court,
  • Within the forest green.
  • ***
  • They had a dance upon the grass,
  • Till larks began to sing;
  • And where they danced, as all may know
  • They left a fairy-ring.
  • ***
  • Oh, pretty fairies! why not stay,
  • That we at you may peep?
  • Why will you only dance and play
  • When we are fast asleep?

Activity - Week 2: Complete the Sentences

Replace the blanks with appropriate prepositions, such as on, in, under, off, over, to, by, around, after, behind, or during.


  • The fox scampered ____________ the log.
  • The little girl climbed ____________ the carousel.
  • The robber hid ____________ the tree.
  • We walked ____________ the bridge.
  • They drove ____________ the bend in the road.
  • She dashed ____________ the barn.
  • He loved to eat cookies ____________ the table.
  • The puppy trotted ____________ her dog house.
  • The boy placed the toy ____________ the deck.
  • He peeked ____________ the corner.