Research Proposals



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1.1  Background to the Study

English prepositions also known as adpositions, are words such as of, in, on, at, from.  They belong to a closed lexical category in English that function as the head of a prepositional phrase and most characteristically a noun phrase object. Semantically, they most typically denote relations in space and time.

Morphologically, they are usually simple and do not inflect.  Therefore, a crucial part of becoming fluent and accurate in the speaking and writing  English as a second language is, therefore, to know when and where to use the appropriate prepositions.

On the other hand, the  term ‘preposition’ is also derived from the Latin ‘praepenere’, which means “put before” or “preceding position”  to a small word such as ‘‘in’’, ‘‘at’’ and ‘‘on’’ Curmie (2019  P. 87), cited in Huddleston (1984, p. 336).


Prepositions are used to explain the link of noun or noun equivalents which it governs. For instance, Hamadallah and Tushyh (1988) pointed out that prepositions are basically measured as functional words which establish a link between phrases, clauses or words in sentences.



While Koffi, (2010, P.29) opines that English has 60 to 70 prepositions). On the basis of their functions, prepositions can be categorized such as preposition of time, instrument, direction and agent.

Prepositions occupy a huge multiplicity of meaning which is context dependent. A specific preposition can change the actual meaning. Moreover, prepositions are words that tell how one thing is relating to or interacting with another. For example, “The man sat on the chair.” The preposition in this sentence is on. Prepositions tell us where something is in relation to something else.


The man isn’t under the chair, for example. He’s on it. They can also be a little bit more abstract. For and to are both prepositions, as is despite. Sometimes, it seems like prepositions are the miscellaneous words that do not fit anywhere else. There really are rules, though, and examples of prepositions that help more than anything.

These phrases help specify the “who,” “what,” “where,” “why,” or “how” of your sentence (i.e., the object of your sentence).

According to Özışık (2014) there are no specific rules regarding the usage of prepositions, and this creates problems for both teachers and learners. There are several prepositions in English.


According to Hooper (1980) cited in Nina (2017), the several prepositions are: 1) preposition of time – (a) one point in time (at), (b) period of time (on, in), and (c) extended time/duration (since, for, by); 2) preposition of place – (a) the point itself (in, inside, on, at), (b) toward the point (to, into), (c) neighboring the point (by, beside, next, between, near), and (d) away from the point (away, off, across, out of) and some others. Each preposition has its own function and cannot be replaced. The incorrect use of prepositions will influence the quality of the message from the speaker to the listener.

From the above, it is clear that a preposition is a word which is used to show the way in which other words are connected (Xiangyue, 2014) preposition may be single words such as “by, from, over, under”, or they may be more complex and composed of several words such as “apart from, in front of, in spite of, instead of”.

Prepositions have objects and are usually followed by a noun, pronoun, or a gerund, but sometimes prepositions‟ objects can also be a clause, infinitive, adjectives, and prepositional phrases. Prepositions can be categorized on the basis of their functions e.g. Preposition for time (I will reach at four O’ clock), place (He lives in Nigeria) and direction (Jane went to laboratory).


Examples of Prepositions

There are hundreds ‘‘of’’ books to choose from,

It was hard not to stare ‘‘at’’ the car crash,

He was searching ‘‘for’’ his keys.

In English grammar, prepositions refer to a word showing how nouns or pronouns relate to the other words that are in the same sentence. Also, one of the important grammar points to master is prepositions. Its function includes describing relations between two entities. These relationships include direction, position, time and various degrees of emotional and mental states.

Moreover, there are many rules governing the use of prepositions in English sentences. They are called “widgets” because they are tiny parts that are used in relating words in a sentence. They also introduce information words that include where, when and why something takes place or general description of information (Laka, 2013).

Prepositions are one of the most underestimated grammar points.  Some scholars believed that For instance, using the Preposition “at” can be used in multiple contexts. Such as telling time or location (e.g., telling someone to meet “at midnight” or “at the coffee shop”).  Preposition “at” can also be used to introduce prepositional phrases that identify the object of a sentence. Examples using “at” He was looking “at” “at” the different options, The teacher pointed “at” the textbook. Mary is looking “at” her friend.


Glory was “at” the party last night. A preposition is the first word of a phrase that contains a noun or a pronoun. In sentences, prepositions show a relationship between its object. So most of sentences must have preposition in English. They can show relationships in time and they can show relationships between objects in space.

Jowitt (1991) explains that advocate, comprise, discuss, demand, emphasize, lack, order, request, stress are constantly abused in Nigerian English. He noted that there is some form of polarity in the misuse of the prepositional verbs among Nigerians which reflects their different degree of proficiency in English. According to him, is indicative of what he calls false analogy in the learners’ inter-language.

Prepositions are taken by most fields of language research to be a single, homogeneous category despite these fundamental contradictory characteristics.

As the fundamental goal of learning English as a second language, it is from this perspective this research work sought to investigate prepositions as structural words in English Language its uses and abuses in Nigerians.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

English language is taught as a compulsory subject in both nursery and tertiary institution in Nigeria. Conversely, in spite of its being taught for so many years, prepositions are still problematic among Senior Secondary school students in Ukanafun Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State as each language has a set of rules which are responsible for grammatical accuracy.

These prepositions are basically measured as functional words which establish a link between phrases, clauses or words in sentences. They also occupy a huge multiplicity of meanings which always change the actual meaning of a sentence that consequently imposed problems to the use of structural prepositions correctly as second language learners.

Therefore, since prepositions are useful in speaking and writing, teachers  in the above mentioned schools should bring out strategies to enable the learners remain conscious of how to use it because it is useful both in written and spoken discourse. This study aimed to examine prepositions as structural words in English Language its uses and abuses in Nigerians.


1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to investigate prepositions as structural words in English language: its uses and abuses in Nigerian. Specifically, the study seeks to:

  • investigate the types of prepositions as structural words in English language used by students in Senior Secondary school students,
  • examine the usefulness of prepositions  as structural words in English language in Nigeria in senior secondary schools.
  • identify the level of abuse of prepositions as structural words in English language  in senior secondary schools.


1.4       Research Questions

The study seeks to provide answers to the following questions:

  • What are the types of prepositions as structural words in English language used by students in Senior Secondary school students?
  • To what extent are prepositions as structural words are used in English language in Nigeria in senior secondary schools?
  • In what ways is preposition abuse in English language in senior secondary schools?


1.5 Significance of the Study

This research is significance to students, teachers of the above mentioned schools as well as Researchers who will find this work relevant for advance research study.   The findings from this study are also beneficial to all the teachers in nursery, primary and secondary and lecturers in tertiary institutions, especially those in English and literary studies, researchers, Ministry of Education, educational policy makers on the various ways of eradicating the above mentioned on the uses of prepositions. Prepositions as structural words in English Language its uses and abuses in Nigerians.


The significance of the study will be of great value to the teachers of English to give prepositions much time, more attention and considerable time for excessive teaching. Finally, the outcomes of this research will be of immense benefits to teachers in the above mentioned schools as to impart students’ academic performance in English language.


1.5 Limitation of the Study

The limitation of this research shall specifically focus on how the researcher shall use a lot of time to get the research materials as well as lack of time for the researcher to complete the project defence and other academic purposes.

The limitation shall also examine how the researcher faced a lot of challenges regarding accessibility of good material from the library and internet access. Prepositions as structural words in English Language its uses and abuses in Nigerians.



Based on the findings of the study, the mother-tongue plays a part in causing difficulties in using English prepositions; poor attendance of students to classes. In addition, lack of conducive environment for effective learning of English language. Also, lack of equipped library in secondary schools and poor communication network between students and teachers and students show of lackadaisical behavoiur during the learning of English language in Secondary Schools.


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Joselyn Nya

My Name is Joselyn Nya A Publisher in Project Boss Team. I'm a Nigerian I'm a graduate/Educational Researcher. Project Boss Team. We are the best for Project materials and project writing services. Email:

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