Prepositions are the dating apps of English, if you choose the wrong app, you just end up with all the wrong relationships. Prepositions connect a noun (or a noun substitute) to some other word in the sentence. They show how the two words relate. They are a great worry to many non-native speakers, and although small can have a great impact on a student’s fluency.
Prepositions are used to express a number of relationships. This include
- purpose, and
- state or condition.
One of the reasons why prepositions cause students so many issues is that the same preposition may be used to show a number of different types of relationships.
- The cat sat on the mat – shows location
- I swear it on my word of honour – shows manner
- I met him on Tuesday – shows time
The cat sat on the mat. In this sentence, the preposition is on. The noun is mat, and the relationship is sat (verb).
Sometimes people find it difficult to know which prepositions to use. Sometimes two different prepositions can be used in the same sentence and have the same meaning.
- He sat on the chair: He sat in the chair,
In some cases, the same sentence structure and the same prepositions but change the noun, and it can have different meanings.
- He sat on the car: He sat in the car
Use in Phrasal Verbs
Prepositions are also used to form phrasal verbs. This makes them confusing; because they can often change the meaning to what you are accustomed. Phrasal verbs combine 2 or 3 words to make a single meaning.
“Look after” is a phrasal verb which means to care for. The prepositions after refer to behind or following, but when you look after someone you are usually by their side.
There are 10 prepositions which make up 90% of the prepositions used in English.
|about/around||I eat about noon|
|after||We will meet after the lesson|
|at||We will meet at five o’clock|
|by||I will finish by five o’clock|
|for||I will work for 15 minutes|
|in||I will go to Thailand in the summer|
|on||I will meet you on the weekend|
|past||It is past 5 o’clock|
PLACE OR DIRECTION
|around||walk around the house|
|at||They are at school|
|down||They lived down the road|
|from||We come from Thailand|
|inside||I put it inside the room|
|in||We are in the car|
|of||We live north of the city|
|on||we sat on the chair|
|through||We walked through the tunnel|
|to||He went to the mall|
|up||She climbed up the mountain|
|with||She went with her mother|
MEANS OR AGENT
|by||He was hit by a car|
|from||His looks come from his mother|
|in||She takes pleasure in seeing me suffer|
|on||He survived on eating bugs|
|with||He hit the car with a bat|
|by||He travelled by foot|
|like||His looks like he can fight|
|in||Rome wasn’t built in a day|
|on||He swore on his oath|
|with||Chinese eat with chopsticks|
STATE OR CONDITION
|by||He was by himself|
|at||My mother is at work|
|in||It is in a bad state|
|on||He is on duty|
|for||He was mistaken for a famous person|
|as||It is seen as a real challenge|
QUANTITY OR MEASURE
|by||It is sold by the kilogramme|
|for||We drove for hours|
|for||She went to China for sightseeing|
Collocations of Prepositions
Certain prepositions are almost always used after certain verbs. These are not Phrasal Verbs but are collocations (words that are natural together)
- agree with (someone)
- believe in
- borrow from
- consist of
- look forward to