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Noun vs. Preposition — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on September 20, 2023
A "Noun" denotes a person, place, thing, or idea. A "Preposition" indicates a relationship between elements in a sentence.
Noun vs. Preposition — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Noun and Preposition


Key Differences

A "Noun" serves as one of the fundamental building blocks of a sentence. It represents names – of people, places, objects, concepts, or even feelings. For instance, "book," "city," and "happiness" are all nouns. Without nouns, our expressions would lack substance and specificity. Conversely, a "Preposition" is a word that illustrates how the noun (or pronoun) is related to another word in the sentence. It provides context by showing direction, location, time, or introducing an object.
While "Nouns" can act as subjects, objects, or even predicate nominatives in sentences, "Prepositions" always operate within prepositional phrases. These phrases begin with the preposition and end with a noun or pronoun, called the object of the preposition. For instance, in the sentence "The cat is under the table," "cat" is a noun, and "under" is a preposition linking it to another noun, "table."
Furthermore, "Nouns" can be pluralized, possessive, and can even take on different roles based on their placement and function in a sentence. "Prepositions," on the other hand, remain consistent in form. They never change for number or case. Their main function is to bridge elements, ensuring the sentence conveys a complete thought.
Lastly, both "Nouns" and "Prepositions" contribute to the richness of language. While nouns give sentences their grounding, prepositions connect these grounding elements, providing cohesion and clarity. Thus, while nouns name entities, prepositions describe the relationships between these entities.

Comparison Chart

Primary Function

Represents names of entities.
Indicates relationship between words.

Role in a Sentence

Can be subject, object, etc.
Operates within prepositional phrases.


Book, city, happiness.
Under, over, with, by, from.

Change in Form

Can be pluralized or possessive.
Remains consistent in form.

Associated with

Can have articles (a, an, the).
Ends with a noun or pronoun in a phrase.

Compare with Definitions


Noun is a word that names a person, place, or thing.
Dog is a noun.


Preposition connects a noun or pronoun to another word.
The book is on the shelf.


Noun can represent abstract ideas or concepts.
Love is a powerful noun.


Preposition indicates direction, location, or time.
She arrived before noon.


Noun serves as the main subject or object in a sentence.
In The sun is shining, sun is a noun.


Preposition provides context in a sentence.
He is fond of chocolate.


Noun can be classified as proper or common.
While country is a common noun, France is a proper noun.


Preposition remains consistent, irrespective of the nouns it connects.
Whether beside the tree or beside the building, beside remains unchanged.


Noun can be singular or plural in form.
Child is a singular noun, while children is its plural form.


Preposition operates within a phrase, ending with its object.
In under the bridge, under is a preposition.


A noun (from Latin nōmen 'name') is a word that functions as the name of a specific object or set of objects, such as living creatures, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas. However, noun is not a semantic category, so it cannot be characterized in terms of its meaning.


A word governing, and usually preceding, a noun or pronoun and expressing a relation to another word or element in the clause, as in ‘the man on the platform’, ‘she arrived after dinner’, ‘what did you do it for?’.


A word (other than a pronoun) used to identify any of a class of people, places, or things (common noun), or to name a particular one of these (proper noun).


A word or phrase placed typically before a substantive and indicating the relation of that substantive to a verb, an adjective, or another substantive, as English at, by, with, from, and in regard to.


The part of speech that is used to name a person, place, thing, quality, or action and can function as the subject or object of a verb, the object of a preposition, or an appositive.


To position or place in position in advance
Artillery that was prepositioned at strategic points in the desert.


Any of the words belonging to this part of speech, such as neighbor, window, happiness, or negotiation.


Any of a class of non-inflecting words typically employed to connect a following noun or a pronoun, in an adjectival or adverbial sense, with some other word: a particle used with a noun or pronoun (in English always in the objective case) to make a phrase limiting some other word.


A word that functions as the name of a specific object or set of objects, such as person, animal, place, thing, phenomenon, substance, quality, or idea; one of the basic parts of speech in many languages, including English.


An adposition.


Either a word that can be used to refer to a person, animal, place, thing, phenomenon, substance, quality or idea, or a word that modifies or describes a previous word or its referent; a substantive or adjective, sometimes also including other parts of speech such as numeral or pronoun.


(obsolete) A proposition; an exposition; a discourse.


(computing) An object within a user interface to which a certain action or transformation (i.e., verb) is applied.


To place in a location before some other event occurs.
It is important to preposition the material before turning on the machine.


(transitive) To convert a word to a noun.


A word employed to connect a noun or a pronoun, in an adjectival or adverbial sense, with some other word; a particle used with a noun or pronoun (in English always in the objective case) to make a phrase limiting some other word; - so called because usually placed before the word with which it is phrased; as, a bridge of iron; he comes from town; it is good for food; he escaped by running.


A word used as the designation or appellation of a creature or thing, existing in fact or in thought; a substantive.


A proposition; an exposition; a discourse.
He made a long preposition and oration.


A word that can be used to refer to a person or place or thing


A function word that combines with a noun or pronoun or noun phrase to form a prepositional phrase that can have an adverbial or adjectival relation to some other word


A word that can serve as the subject or object of a verb


(linguistics) the placing of one linguistic element before another (as placing a modifier before the word it modifies in a sentence or placing an affix before the base to which it is attached)

Common Curiosities

Can prepositions stand alone?

No, prepositions typically operate within phrases, connecting to a noun or pronoun.

What is the primary role of a noun in a sentence?

A noun primarily represents a person, place, thing, or idea.

How do you identify a noun?

A noun names entities, such as people, places, objects, or concepts.

What's the difference between proper and common nouns?

Proper nouns name specific entities (like "John"), while common nouns are general (like "man").

What's the role of a prepositional phrase in a sentence?

It provides additional information about location, time, or direction related to the main action.

Can nouns act as adjectives?

Yes, in some cases nouns can modify other nouns, functioning adjectivally, e.g., "chicken soup."

Why are prepositions important?

Prepositions give context by showing relationships between elements in sentences.

Are all nouns tangible?

No, nouns can be both tangible (like "car") and intangible (like "freedom").

What are some common prepositions?

Common prepositions include "in," "on," "at," "by," and "with."

What happens if you remove prepositions from a sentence?

Removing prepositions can alter the meaning or make the sentence unclear.

Can a word be both a preposition and another part of speech?

Yes, some words can act as prepositions and other parts of speech based on context, e.g., "before" can be a preposition or a conjunction.

Are prepositions always followed by nouns?

Typically, yes. Prepositions connect to nouns or pronouns in phrases.

How can nouns be pluralized?

Many nouns can be made plural by adding -s or -es, though there are irregular forms.

Can nouns represent feelings?

Yes, nouns can represent emotions or feelings, like "joy" or "anger."

Is "the" a noun?

No, "the" is an article that typically precedes and modifies a noun.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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