Preposition literally means placed before. Prepositions are critical structural words and using them correctly sometimes requires a reference. I rely on the Chicago Manual of Style, which is widely accepted as the “rulebook” for fiction writing. If you are a journalist or student, or writing for a particular academic or professional audience, a different style guide may apply, so do your research!
Many excellent style guides are available online or for low cost. Here are links to some of my favorites:
Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS)
Let’s look at a few pronouns that are commonly misused.
- toward or towards?
Which of the following is below and why?
I walked toward the groaning zombie.
I walked towards the groaning zombie.
While the behavior might be questionable, generally American English prefers toward (no s). You can also leave the letter s off the word downward. Example:
When the author asked whether she had used the word correctly, I let her know she was wrong by pointing my thumbs downward. (Hopefully she laughed at that…)
- inside or inside of
Inside can function as one of two different parts of speech. When inside is used as a noun, such as, “He bit the inside of his cheek,” include a prepositional phrase after it. So breaking it down looks like this:
He (noun/subject) bit (verb/action) the inside (noun object of the verb) of his jaw (prepositional phrase modifying inside).
Maybe more than you wanted to know, but it matters especially in erotic/sex scenes because inside is frequently used incorrectly.
When inside functions as a preposition itself, then do not use a second preposition.
Example (romance and erotic authors will appreciate this): I want your (fill in the blank) inside me.
Not inside of!