Places

Asking about someone's home

If you want to know where someone's home is, you say `Where do you live?' or `Whereabouts do you live?' You use whereabouts if you know approximately where they live, and you want more precise information.
`Where do you live?' – `I have a little studio flat, in Chiswick.'
`I actually live near Chester.' – `Whereabouts?'
If you want to know where someone spent their early life, you can say `What part of the country are you from?' You can also say `Where do you come from?' or `Where are you from?', especially if you think they spent their early life in a different country.
`Where do you come from?' – `India.'

Place names

Place names such as Italy and Amsterdam are a type of proper noun and are spelled with a capital letter.
Most place names are used with a singular verb form. Even place names that look like plural nouns, for example The United States and The Netherlands, are used with a singular verb form.
Canada still has large natural forests.
Milan is the most interesting city in the world.
...when the United States was prospering.
However, the names of groups of islands or mountains are usually used with a plural verb form.
...one of the tiny Comoro Islands that lie in the Indian Ocean midway between Madagascar and Tanzania.
The Andes split the country down the middle.
The name of a country or its capital city is often used to refer to the government of that country.
Britain and France jointly suggested a plan.
Washington had put a great deal of pressure on Berlin
You can also sometimes use the name of a place to refer to the people who live there. You use a singular verb form even though you are talking about a group of people.
Europe was sick of war.
Poland needs additional imports.
Place names can also be used to refer to a well-known event that occurred in that place, such as a battle or a disaster.
After Waterloo, trade and industry surged again.
...the effect of Chernobyl on British agriculture.

Modifier use

You can use a place name as a modifier to show that something is in a particular place, or that something comes from or is characteristic of a particular place.
...a London hotel.
She has a Midlands accent.

Adverbials

Many adverbials are used to talk about place.
Adverbs and adverbials (for information on where to put these adverbs and adverbials in a clause)

Prepositions: position

The main prepositions used to show position are at, in, and on.
Sometimes we went to concerts at the Albert Hall.
I am back in Rome.
We sat on the floor.
Here is a full list of prepositions which are used to show position:
  • aboard
  • about
  • above
  • across
  • against
  • ahead of
  • all over
  • along
  • alongside
  • amidst (AM amid)
  • among
  • around
  • astride
  • at
  • away from
  • before
  • behind
  • below
  • beneath
  • beside
  • between
  • beyond
  • by
  • close by
  • close to
  • down
  • in
  • in between
  • in front of
  • inside
  • near
  • near to
  • next to
  • off
  • on
  • on top of
  • opposite
  • out of
  • outside
  • over
  • past
  • through
  • throughout
  • under
  • underneath
  • up
  • upon
  • with
  • within

Prepositions: destination and direction

The main preposition used to show a destination is to.
I went to the door.
She went to Australia in 1970.
At is not usually used to show a person's destination. It is used to show what someone is looking towards, or what they cause an object to move towards.
They were staring at a garage roof.
Supporters threw petals at his car.
Here is a full list of prepositions which are used to show where something goes:
  • aboard
  • about
  • across
  • ahead of
  • all over
  • along
  • alongside
  • around
  • at
  • away from
  • behind
  • below
  • beneath
  • beside
  • between
  • beyond
  • by
  • down
  • from
  • in
  • in between
  • in front of
  • inside
  • into
  • near
  • near to
  • off
  • on
  • onto
  • out of
  • outside
  • over
  • past
  • round (AM around)
  • through
  • to
  • towards (AM toward)
  • under
  • underneath
  • up
As you can see from the above lists, many prepositions can be used to show both place and direction.
The bank is just across the High Street.
I walked across the room.
We live in the house over the road.
I stole his keys and escaped over the wall.

Used after nouns

Prepositional phrases are used after nouns to show the location of the thing or person referred to by the noun.
The table in the kitchen had a tablecloth over it.
The driver behind me began shouting.

Prepositions with parts and areas

If you want to say explicitly which part of something else an object is nearest to, or exactly which part of an area it is in, you can use at, by, in, near, or on. To and towards (toward in American English), which are usually used to show direction, are used to express position in a more approximate way.
You use at, near, and towards with the following nouns:
  • back
  • base
  • bottom
  • centre
  • edge
  • end
  • foot
  • front
  • rear
  • side
  • top
She waited at the bottom of the stairs.
The old building of University College is near the top of the street.
He was sitting towards the rear.
You can also use to with rear and side.
Some troops were moved to the rear.
There was one sprinkler in front of the statue and one to the side of it.
You use on or to with left and right, and in with middle. You can also use on instead of at with edge.
The church is on the left and the town hall and police station are on the right.
To the left were the kitchens and staff quarters.
My mother stood in the middle of the road, watching.
He lives on the edge of Sefton Park.
You use to or in with the following nouns:
  • east
  • north
  • north-east (AM northeast)
  • north-west (AM northwest)
  • south
  • south-east (AM southeast)
  • south-west (AM southwest)
  • west
To the south-west lay the city.
The National Liberation Front forces were still active in the north.
You use at or by with the following nouns:
  • bedside
  • dockside
  • fireside
  • graveside
  • kerbside (AM curbside)
  • lakeside
  • poolside
  • quayside
  • ringside
  • riverside
  • roadside
  • seaside
  • waterside
She stood crying at the graveside.
We found him sitting by the fireside.
You generally use the with the nouns in the three previous lists.
I ran up the stairs. Wendy was standing at the top.
To the north are the main gardens.
However, you can also use a possessive determiner with the nouns in the first list above (back, base, etc), and with left, right, and bedside.
We reached another cliff face, with trees and bushes growing at its base.
There was a gate on our left leading into a field.
I was at his bedside when he died.
In front of and on top of are fixed phrases, without a determiner.
She stood in front of the mirror.
I fell on top of him.

Adverbs: position

There are many adverbs that show position. Many of these show that something is near a place, object, or person that has already been mentioned.
Seagulls were circling overhead.
Nearby, there is another restaurant.
This information is summarized below.
Here is a list of the main adverbs which are used to show position:
  • aboard
  • about
  • above
  • abroad
  • ahead
  • aloft
  • alongside
  • ashore
  • away
  • behind
  • below
  • beneath
  • beside
  • beyond
  • close by
  • close to
  • down
  • downstairs
  • downstream
  • downwind
  • here
  • in
  • in between
  • indoors
  • inland
  • inside
  • near
  • nearby
  • next door
  • off
  • offshore
  • opposite
  • out of doors
  • outdoors
  • outside
  • over
  • overhead
  • overseas
  • round (AM around)
  • there
  • throughout
  • underfoot
  • underground
  • underneath
  • underwater
  • up
  • upstairs
  • upstream
  • upwind
A small group of adverbs of position are used to show how wide an area something exists in:
  • globally
  • internationally
  • locally
  • regionally
  • nationally
  • universally
  • widely
  • worldwide
Everything we used was bought locally.
Western culture was not universally accepted.
Unlike most other adverbs of position, these adverbs (with the exception of worldwide) can't be used after `be' to state the position of something.
The adverbs deep, far, high, and low, which show distance as well as position, are usually followed by another adverb or phrase showing position, or are modified or qualified in some other way.
Many of the eggs remain buried deep among the sand grains.
One plane, flying very low, swept back and forth.
Deep down, far away, high up, and low down are often used instead of the adverbs on their own.
The window was high up, miles above the rocks.
Sita scraped a shallow cavity low down in the wall.

Adverbs: direction or destination

There are also many adverbs which show direction or destination.
They went downstairs hand in hand.
Go north from Leicester Square up Wardour Street.
She walked away.
Here is a list of the main ones:
  • aboard
  • abroad
  • ahead
  • along
  • anti-clockwise (AM counterclockwise)
  • around
  • ashore
  • back
  • backwards
  • clockwise
  • close
  • down
  • downstairs
  • downtown
  • downwards
  • east
  • eastwards
  • forwards
  • heavenward
  • here
  • home
  • homeward
  • in
  • indoors
  • inland
  • inside
  • inwards
  • left
  • near
  • next door
  • north
  • northwards
  • on
  • onward
  • out of doors
  • outdoors
  • outside
  • overseas
  • right
  • round (AM around)
  • sideways
  • skyward
  • south
  • southwards
  • there
  • underground
  • up
  • upstairs
  • uptown
  • upwards
  • west
  • westwards
Note that American English normally uses a form of these adverbs ending in `-ward' where British speakers use the form ending in `-wards'.
You move forward and backward by leaning slightly in those directions.
We were drifting backwards and forwards.

Used after nouns

Place adverbs can be used after nouns to give more information.
The stream runs through the sand to the ocean beyond.
My suitcase had become damaged on the journey home.

Modifier use

Some place adverbs can be used in front of nouns as modifiers.
Gradually the underground caverns fill up with deposits.
There will be some variations in your heart rate as you encounter uphill stretches or increase your pace on downhill sections.
The following place adverbs can be used as modifiers:
  • anti-clockwise (AM counterclockwise)
  • backward
  • clockwise
  • downhill
  • downstairs
  • eastward
  • inland
  • inside
  • nearby
  • northward
  • outside
  • overhead
  • overseas
  • southward
  • underground
  • underwater
  • uphill
  • upstairs
  • westward

Indefinite place adverbs

There are four indefinite adverbs of position and direction: anywhere, everywhere, nowhere, and somewhere.
In informal American English someplace and anyplace are also used, as well as no place and every place.
No-one can find Howard or Barbara anywhere.
There were bicycles everywhere.
I thought I'd seen you somewhere.
I suggested they stay someplace else.
Nowhere makes a clause negative.
I was to go nowhere without an escort.
In writing, you can put nowhere at the beginning of a clause for emphasis. You put the subject of the verb after an auxiliary or a form of be.
Nowhere have I seen any serious mention of this.
Nowhere are they overwhelmingly numerous.
You can put a to-infinitive clause after anywhere, somewhere, or nowhere to show what you want to do in a place.
I couldn't find anywhere to put it.
We mentioned that we were looking for somewhere to live.
There was nowhere for us to go.
You can also put a relative clause after these adverbs. You don't usually use a relative pronoun.
I could go anywhere I wanted.
Everywhere I went, people were angry or suspicious.
You can use else after an indefinite place adverb to show a different or additional place.
We could hold the meeting somewhere else.
More people die in bed than anywhere else.
Elsewhere can be used instead of `somewhere else' or `in other places'.
It was obvious that he would rather be elsewhere.
Elsewhere in the tropics, rainfall is variable.
Get all volumes of The Farlex Grammar Book in paperback or eBook.
Share Tweet Share

Conversations