Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Notes on Prepositions II

Is it any wonder that prepositions create such troubles for students for whom English is a second language? We say we are at the hospital to visit a friend who is in the hospital. We lie in bed but on the couch. We watch a film at the theater but on television. For native speakers, these little words present little difficulty, but try to learn another language, any other language, and you will quickly discover that prepositions are troublesome wherever you live and learn. This page contains some interesting (sometimes troublesome) prepositions with brief usage notes. To address all the potential difficulties with prepositions in idiomatic usage would require volumes, and the only way English language learners can begin to master the intricacies of preposition usage is through practice and paying close attention to speech and the written word. Keeping a good dictionary close at hand (to hand?) is an important first step.

Prepositions of Time: at, on, and in

We use at to designate specific times.
#The train is due at 12:15 p.m.
We use on to designate days and dates.
#My brother is coming on Monday.
#We're having a party on the Fourth of July.
We use in for nonspecific times during a day, a month, a season, or a year.
#She likes to jog in the morning.
#It's too cold in winter to run outside.
#He started the job in 1971.
#He's going to quit in August.
Prepositions of Place: at, on, and in
We use at for specific addresses.
#Grammar English lives at 55 Boretz Road in Durham.
We use on to designate names of streets, avenues, etc.
#Her house is on Boretz Road.
And we use in for the names of land-areas (towns, counties, states, countries, and continents).
#She lives in Durham.
#Durham is in Windham County.
#Windham County is in Connecticut.

Prepositions of Location: in, at, and on
and No Preposition
(the) bed*
the bedroom
the car
(the) class*
the library*
the library*
the office
the bed*
the ceiling
the floor
the horse
the plane
the train

Prepositions of Movement: to and No Preposition

We use to in order to express movement toward a place.
#They were driving to work together.
#She's going to the dentist's office this morning.
Toward and towards are also helpful prepositions to express movement. These are simply variant spellings of the same word; use whichever sounds better to you.
#We're moving toward the light.
#This is a big step towards the project's completion.
With the words home, downtown, uptown, inside, outside, downstairs, upstairs, we use no preposition.
#Grandma went upstairs
#Grandpa went home.
#They both went outside.

Prepositions of Time: for and since

We use for when we measure time (seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years).
#He held his breath for seven minutes.
#She's lived there for seven years.
#The British and Irish have been quarreling for seven centuries.
We use since with a specific date or time.
#He's worked here since 1970.
#She's been sitting in the waiting room since two-thirty.

Prepositions with Nouns, Adjectives, and Verbs.

Prepositions are sometimes so firmly wedded to other words that they have practically become one word. (In fact, in other languages, such as German, they would have become one word.) This occurs in three categories: nouns, adjectives, and verbs.


approval of
awareness of
belief in
concern for
confusion about
desire for
fondness for
grasp of
hatred of
hope for
interest in
love of
need for
participation in
reason for
respect for
success in
understanding of



afraid of
angry at
aware of
capable of
careless about
familiar with
fond of
happy about
interested in
jealous of
made of
married to
proud of
similar to
sorry for
sure of
tired of
worried about



apologize for
ask about
ask for
belong to
bring up
care for
find out
give up
grow up
look for
look forward to
look up
make up
pay for
prepare for
study for
talk about
think about
trust in
work for
worry about

A combination of verb and preposition is called a phrasal verb. The word that is joined to the verb is then called a particle. Please refer to the brief section we have prepared on phrasal verbs for an explanation.

Idiomatic Expressions with Prepositions

·         agree to a proposal, with a person, on a price, in principle
·         argue about a matter, with a person, for or against a proposition
·         compare to to show likenesses, with to show differences (sometimes similarities)
·         correspond to a thing, with a person
·         differ from an unlike thing, with a person
·         live at an address, in a house or city, on a street, with other people

Lifted from grammar.cc.commnet.edu

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