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13.9: Prepositions

  • Page ID
    120120
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    Audio Version (March 2022):

    What is a preposition?

    A preposition is a word that connects a noun or a pronoun to another word in a sentence. It can show the relationship between the words it connects.  Sometimes changing the preposition can change the meaning of the sentence completely.

    There are some general rules about preposition use described below.  Choosing the correct preposition often depends on knowing the standard patterns of usage for the words the prepositions connect to.  Often consulting a dictionary will be the best way to determine the right preposition combination. 

    Prepositions for location and time

    Most prepositions such as above, below, and behind usually indicate a location in the physical world, but some prepositions such as during, after, and until show location in time. The prepositions in, at, and on are used to indicate both location and time, but they are used in specific ways. The tables below show when to use each one.

    The Preposition in
    Time Example Place Example
    year in 1942 country in Zimbabwe
    month in August state in California
    season in the summer city in Chicago
    time of day (not with night) in the afternoon    

     

    The Preposition on
    Time Example Place Example
    day on Monday surfaces on the table
    date on May 23 streets on 124th Street
    specific days/dates on Monday modes of transportation on the bus

     

    The Preposition at
    Time Example Place Example
    time at five o’clock addresses at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
    with night at night location at Rooney’s Grill

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{1}\)

    Edit the following letter from a resident to her landlord by correcting errors with in, at, and on.

    Dear Mrs. Salazar,
    I am writing this letter to inform you that I will be vacating apartment 2A in 356 Maple Street at Wednesday, June 30, 2010. I will be cleaning the apartment at the Monday before I leave. I will return the keys to you on 5 p.m., sharp, at June 30. If you have any questions or specific instructions for me, please contact me in my office. I have enjoyed living at Austin, Texas, but I want to explore other parts of the country now.
    Sincerely,
    Milani Davis

    Prepositions after verbs

    Prepositions often follow verbs to create expressions with distinct meanings. These expressions are sometimes called prepositional verbs. It is important to remember that these expressions cannot be separated.

    Verb and Preposition Combinations
    Verb + preposition Meaning Sample sentence with the verb and preposition in bold
    agree with to agree with something or someone My husband always agrees with me.
    apologize for to express regret for something, to say sorry about something I apologize for being late.
    apply for to ask for something formally I will apply for that job.
    believe in to have a firm conviction in something; to believe in the existence of something I believe in educating the world’s women.
    care about to think that someone or something is important I care about the health of our oceans.
    hear about to be told about something or someone I heard about the teachers’ strike.
    look after to watch or to protect someone or something Will you look after my dog while I am on vacation?
    talk about to discuss something We will talk about the importance of recycling.
    speak to, with to talk to/with someone I will speak to their teacher tomorrow.
    wait for to await the arrival of someone or something I will wait for my package to arrive.

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{2}\)

    For each of the sentences below, choose the correct verb and preposition combination to fit the meaning.

    1. Charlotte does not ________ (apologize for, believe in) aliens or ghosts.
    2. It is impolite to ________ (hear about, talk about) people when they are not here.
    3. Pavel said he was going to ________ (believe in, apply for) the internship.
    4. Jonas would not ________ (talk about, apologize for) eating the last piece of cake.
    5. I ________ (care about, agree with) the environment very much.

    Prepositions after adjectives

    Similar to prepositions after verbs, prepositions after adjectives create expressions with distinct meanings unique to English. Remember, like prepositional verbs, these expressions also cannot be separated.

    Adjective and Preposition Combinations
    Adjective + preposition Meaning Sample sentence with the adjective and preposition in bold
    angry at, about to feel or show anger toward (or about) someone or something I am angry about the oil spill in the ocean.
    confused about to be unable to think with clarity about someone or something. Shawn was confused about the concepts presented at the meeting.
    disappointed in, with to feel dissatisfaction with someone or something I was disappointed in my husband because he voted for that candidate.
    dressed in to clothe the body He was dressed in a pin-striped suit.
    happy for to show happiness for someone or something I was happy for my sister who graduated from college.
    interested in giving attention to something, expressing interest I am interested in musical theater.
    jealous of to feel resentful or bitter toward someone or something (because of their status, possessions, or ability) I was jealous of her because she always went on vacation.
    thankful for to express thanks for something I am thankful for my wonderful friends.
    tired of to be disgusted with, have a distaste for I was tired of driving for hours without end.
    worried about to express anxiety or worry about something I am worried about my father’s health.

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{3}\)

    Complete the following sentences by choosing the correct adjective and preposition combination to follow the verb.

    1. Meera was deeply ________ (interested in, thankful for) marine biology.
    2. I was ________ (jealous of, disappointed in) the season finale of my favorite show.
    3. Jordan won the race, and I am ________ (happy for, interested in) him.
    4. The lawyer was ________ (thankful for, confused about) the details of the case.
    5. Chloe was ________ (dressed in, tired of) a comfortable blue tunic.

    Attributions

    Adapted by Anna Mills from Writing for Successcreated by an author and publisher who prefer to remain anonymous, adapted and presented by the Saylor Foundation and licensed CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.


    13.9: Prepositions is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.