Prepositions of Movement
across / through
Across is going from one side of an area, surface, or line to the other side.
I drew a line ACROSS the paper.
Through is movement from one side of an enclosed space to the other side.
The baseball went THROUGH the window.
Sometimes, either ACROSS or THROUGH can be used for areas:
• We walked across the park.
• = We walked through the park.
• They drove across the city.
• = They drove through the city.
along / around
Along is to follow a line.
Around is to go in a circular direction around some obstacle.
into / out of
Into is to go from outside a space to inside a space.
Out of is to go from inside a space to outside a space.
The cat went into the box.
The cat jumped out of the box.
onto / off
Onto and off refer to surfaces, differently from into / out of (which refer
to enclosed spaces):
The dog jumped onto the table.
The dog jumped into the table.
I took the picture off the wall.
I took the picture out of the wall.
up / down
Going up the stairs / Going down the stairs
In addition to physical movement, go up and go down can also be
used for “increase” and “decrease.”
• The price of food has gone up in the past two years.
• The number of children per family has gone down.
over / under
To go over is to pass above something.
To go under is to pass below something.
towards / away from
If you go towards something, you get closer to it.
If you go away from something, you get farther away from it.
The dog is running towards me.
The boy is running away from me.
“Back to” is movement of return to a place you have been before:
He went to Italy.
(maybe for the first time)
He went back to Italy.
(it is the second time, or he is originally from Italy)
He went back Italy.
(this form is incorrect)
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