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Where

Where

Alternative flash content

Requirements

Where – in, on, over, under, beside


Hello! In this lesson, we will learn to ask the location of things and to use some prepositions of location to describe where they are. In previous lessons, we have learned the question words "who", "what", and "how". In this lesson, we will learn to use the question word "where" to ask the location of someone or something. In addition, we will learn to use the prepositions "in, on, over, under," and "beside" to tell about the locations of people and things.
Let us look at these prepositions.

There are several ways of using the relationship preposition "in".  For example, we can say "The child learns in school." , or "The sweater is in my hand.". These are the concrete usages of this preposition. But we can also use the word in a more abstract sense.  For example, the first month of the year is "January." We can say that a particular event happens "in January", which means that the event happens at some time during the month of January.

The usage of the relational preposition "on" is similar in the way it is used. We can use the preposition very concretely. For example, "My shoes are on my feet.", "My hat is on my head.", or "My fingers are on my hand.". This preposition can also be used in an abstract way to designate a specific day, for example "on Monday" or "on Wednesday".

The usage of the prepositions "over" and "under" follows a similar pattern. These are also relational prepositions which give the position of something or someone in relationship to something or someone else. For example, we might say "My shirt is over my t-shirt.", and "My t-shirt is under my shirt.". In a later lesson we will learn the abstract usages of these prepositions.

The relational preposition "beside" is used similarly. An example of a concrete usage is "My dad stands beside my mom." or "My brother works beside my dad.".


In this dialog, David is getting ready for work. Since he is in a hurry, he asks Jennifer to help him find his socks.

David: Where are my good socks?

Jennifer:  Are they in your black shoes?

David: No, they are not. Where are they?

Jennifer: Are they under your blue jacket?

David:  No, they are not! Where can they be?

Jennifer:  Are they beside your red shirt?

David: No, they are not beside my red shirt. Where can I look?

Jennifer:  Are they on your feet?

David:  Oh! Yes, they are! They are on my feet.

Now that you understand how to use the question word "where" and several of the relational prepositions, let us take a closer look at the sentences in the dialog.

David starts out by asking "Where are my good socks?". David uses the question word "where". Notice that he uses the plural form of "to be", which means he is looking for more than one sock.  Rather than responding with an answer, Jennifer asks David a question. "Are they in your black shoes?". Notice that Jennifer uses the pronoun "they" to refer to the good socks along with the relational preposition "in". David answers that they are not in his black shoes, and repeats the question "Where are they?". In this question the word "they" refers to his "good socks". Jennifer does not answer the question; instead she asks "Are they under your blue jacket?".  After David says that they are not under the blue jacket, he asks "Where can they be?".In this question, he is asking for the possible locations, so he uses the modal verb "can" with the question word "where".  Jennifer mentions another possible location: "Are they beside your red shirt?".After David assures Jennifer that they are not beside his red shirt, he asks "Where can I look?", another way of asking the location of the socks.  At last Jennifer asks "Are they on your feet?" and David realizes that "They are on my feet."!

Now that you have a good idea of the uses of these prepositions, let us listen to the dialog again. Listen for the different prepositions as David looks everywhere for his good socks.

David:  Where are my good socks?

Jennifer:  Are they in your black shoes?

David: No, they are not. Where are they?

Jennifer: Are they under your blue jacket?

David:  No, they are not! Where can they be?

Jennifer:  Are they beside your red shirt?

David: No, they are not beside my red shirt. Where can I look?

Jennifer:  Are they on your feet?

David:  Oh! Yes, they are! They are on my feet.

Very good! The relational prepositions expand your growing ability to express yourself in English. As you incorporate these little words into your growing lists of vocabulary, you will make exponential progress in your ability to express ideas and opinions in English.