Difference between a Preposition and Adverb


People seem to confuse these two even though the difference between them is not that complex.

An adverb, per The Chicago Manual of Style, is simply a word that typically modifies, describes, limits or qualifies another adjective, adverb or verb. Adverbs cannot modify

Adverbs cannot modify nouns or pronouns. Adverbs are typically used to describe words that aren’t easily labeled.


Adverbs can have three degrees: positive, comparative and superlative. Although adverbs often follow a simple structure such as

Although adverbs often follow a simple structure such as hard-harder-hardest or fast-faster-fastest, there are irregular adverbs that break all the rules such as little-less-least.

Prepositions are words or phrases that connect an object and an antecedent with one simple objective: to show the relationship between them. The object of a preposition is usually a noun or pronoun, although adverbs, adjectives, verbs and phrases can come after a preposition as well.

The object of a preposition is usually a noun or pronoun, although adverbs, adjectives, verbs and phrases can come after a preposition as well.

Prepositions, as ambassadors of relationships, must always have objects. The relationship is established through words like by, besides, like, opposite, alongside, except, across or until. Prepositions have certain nuances, such as participial and phrasal prepositions as well as prepositional phrases (which include prepositional noun phrases, adjectival

Prepositions have certain nuances, such as participial and phrasal prepositions as well as prepositional phrases (which include prepositional noun phrases, adjectival phrases and adverbial phrases).

If this seems a bit complex, just remember this simple rule: adverbs describe or modify, prepositions show relationships. You should also be able to recognize the difference between the two because the words used are very different. If you can add -er and -est to it, it’s probably an adverb. You can’t write “

You should also be able to recognize the difference between the two because the words used are very different. If you can add -er and -est to it, it’s probably an adverb. You can’t write “acrossest” or “untiler”. Those aren’t real words; you won’t find them in a dictionary.

I’ve written about adverbs and prepositions with much greater detail on their individual pages. Check them out.