Hi, I’m Oli.
Welcome to Oxford Online English!
In this lesson, you can learn about prepositions of movement, like ‘around’, ‘past’,
‘towards’, ‘through’ and more.
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Now, let’s look at how to use prepositions of movement in English.
‘Around’ can have two different meanings.
First, ‘around’ can mean ‘in a circle’ The train is going around the track.
‘The earth revolves around its axis.’
‘Around’ can also mean ‘in different directions’.
For example, if you say ‘we walked around the city centre’, you mean that you walked
to different parts of the centre.
Here’s another example.
He looked around to check that everything seemed OK.
He looked *around*, so he looked in different directions.
Left, right, up, and so on.
‘Along’ means ‘in a straight line’ plus ‘parallel to’ something.
She’s walking along the stream.
The woman walked along the street.
He’s cycling along the road.
Instead of ‘along’ you can often use ‘up’ or ‘down’ instead in conversational English.
For example, instead of ‘He’s cycling along the road’, you could say ‘He’s
cycling up the road,’ or ‘He’s cycling down the road.’
Confusingly, ‘up’ and ‘down’ often mean exactly the same thing!
Sometimes, there’s a small difference.
‘Up’ can mean ‘towards you’ and ‘down’ can mean ‘away from you’
So, these two sentences… …*could* mean the same thing.
They could also be different.
The first sentence – with ‘up’ – could mean that she’s walking towards you, and
the second sentence – with ‘down’ – could mean that she’s walking away from you.
The couple walked under the bridge.
She passed under the fallen tree.
‘Under’ is similar to ‘below’, but not exactly the same.
Do you know the difference?
‘Below’ means that you stay underneath something.
‘Under’ – as a preposition of movement – means that you pass from one side of something
to another So, if you’re talking about movement, ‘under’
is more common.
You could say ‘the couple walked below the bridge.’
It’s grammatically correct, but it’s also strange.
Do you know why?
‘The couple walked below the bridge’ means they stayed in the area underneath the bridge,
so the bridge was over their heads the whole time when they were walking.
‘Over’ is the direct opposite of ‘under’.
The plane flew right over our heads.
She vaulted over the bar.
The direct opposite of ‘below’ is ‘above’.
The difference between ‘over’ and ‘above’ is the same as the difference between ‘under’
‘Across’ means from one side of something to the other.
When the light turned green, they walked across the street.
We walked across a narrow wooden bridge.
When you use ‘across’, there normally isn’t anything above you.
Use it for open spaces.
For closed spaces, do you know which preposition to use?
He walked through the door.
We drove through the tunnel.
The boat travelled through the swamp.
Sometimes, both ‘through’ and ‘across’ are possible; you can say ‘The boat travelled
through the swamp’ or ‘…across the swamp.’
The meaning is similar, but there could be a small difference.
Do you know?
‘Through’ means that you enter and then exit something.
If you drive *through* a tunnel, you first drive into the tunnel, and then you drive
out of it.
If the boat travels *through* the swamp, it moves into the swamp, then later moves out
‘Across’ means that you start on one side, and finish on the opposite side.
If you say ‘the boat travelled across the swamp’, you mean that it entered the swamp
on one side, and exited on the other side.
You can use both ‘across’ and ‘through’ with large, open spaces, especially natural
spaces: fields, parks, gardens, cities, and so on.
When you can use both, ‘across’ has a more specific meaning than ‘through’.
Both mean that you entered a space and then exited it, but ‘across’ also tells you
*where* you exited.
‘Towards’ means that you approach something; you get closer to something.
He walked towards the plane.
She’s walking towards the sea.
They’re walking towards the lighthouse.
The opposite of ‘towards’ is ‘away from’.
Here’s a question: what’s the difference between these two?
Both mean that they *approached* the lighthouse, but they’re slightly different.
‘Towards’ tells you a direction.
‘Up to’ tells you a final result.
If they walked *towards* the lighthouse, they got closer to it.
You don’t know where they started or finished, but you know that they got closer to the lighthouse.
If they walked *up to* the lighthouse, then they reached the lighthouse; they ended up
next to the lighthouse.
In this case, you don’t know where they started, but do you know where they finished.
‘Into’ has two common meanings as a preposition of movement.
First, it can mean to enter.
He dived into the water.
She came into the office.
‘Into’ can also mean to collide with something.
The cars crashed into each other.
The opposite of ‘into’ – meaning ‘enter’– is ‘out of’.
She took the instruments out of the cupboard.
He got out of his car to fill it up with petrol.
I was walking past the café when I saw my friend sitting inside.
The two women walked past the parking garage.
If you walk past something – for example a house – you start with the house in front
of you, you walk *past* the house, and then the house is behind you.
‘Up’ and ‘down’ have two common meanings as prepositions of movement.
First, you have the basic meaning: to a higher or lower
She’s walking up the hill.
When we let go of the lanterns, they flew up into the sky.
He walked down the stairs while talking on the phone.
The roller coaster accelerated down a steep drop.
You saw earlier that ‘up’ or ‘down’ can also have the same meaning as ‘along’.
That’s all for this lesson.
Thanks for watching!