HUNTER COLLEGE READING/WRITING CENTER
GRAMMAR AND MECHANICS
Prepositions: Definition and Usage
A preposition may be defined as connecting word showing the
relation of a noun or a noun substitute to some other word in the
sentence (the squirrel in the tree; the preposition in shows the
relationship between the squirrel and the tree.).
Over ninety percent of preposition usage involves these nine
with at by
to in for
from of on
Prepositions cause problems because sometimes they can be used
interchangeably (He sat on the chair: He sat in the chair), because
prepositions are often combined with verbs to create phrasal verbs
(to look after someone; to look down on someone), and because a
single preposition can be used to express several different ideas
(He is tall for his age; I swam for an hour).
The most efficient method of study is to familiarize yourself
with prepositions and prepositional phrases through practice and
memorization. This is particularly helpful for the bilingual
student, who often seems to find preposition usage one of the most
difficult parts of the English language.
Uses of Common Prepositions
Prepositions are used to express a number of relationships,
including time, location, manner, means, quantity, purpose, and
state or condition. The following outline demonstrates the uses of
about: about noon (approximately) after: after the game
at: at five o'clock after lunch
at last (finally) after three
by: by midnight (no later than) for: for an hour (duration)
from: from Monday to Friday in: in the morning
of: a quarter of three (15 in the fall
minutes before) in April
on: on Tuesday (day of the week) in 1987
on May 8 (date) in six months (at the end of)
on time (punctual) in time (early enough)
past: a quarter past three (15 to: a quarter to three (15 minutes
minutes after) before)
B. PLACE OR DIRECTION
around: She walked around the car. at: They are at home.
down: They lived down the hall. We were at the restaurant.
from: We immigrated from Peru He smiled at her.
in 1991. in: He lives in a trailer.
The restaurant is one We waited in the bus.
mile from here. inside: Put it inside the house.
of: We moved south of Montreal on: We sat on the ocean pier.
through: They drove through the tunnel. She left on the train.
to: He went to Prague. up: He walked up the stairs.
Give it to me. with: He went with me.
C. MEANS OR AGENT
by: He was hit by a ball. from: His success results from
She came by train. careful planning.
He did it by hard work. in: He takes pleasure in it.
It came by special delivery. on: They live on bread and water.
He got there by swimming. with: He chased the mongoose with
by: By doing it yourself, you in: He left in confusion.
save time. The room was in a turmoil.
like: He looks like a hero. You can do it in a day.
on: I swear it on my word of honor.
with: He ate it with a fork.
E. STATE OR CONDITION
at: My friend is at work. by: They are by themselves
She is at home. (alone).
in: He is in a state of on: He is on duty (scheduled to
for: I mistook you for someone as: I see her as a good person.
F. QUANTITY OR MEASURE
for: We drove for twenty miles. by: We bought them by the kilo.
We bought it for ten cents.
for: He bought it for an emergency.
She went to the city for sightseeing.
He loved her for her thoughtfulness.
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Uses of Prepositions after Certain Verbs
agree on (something)
agree with (someone)
argue with (someone)
blame (someone) for (something)
blame (something) on (someone)
call on (upon)
compliment (someone) on
convince (someone) of (something)
decide on (upon)
depend on (upon)
get rid of
insist on (upon)
invite (someone) to
look forward to
remind (someone) of
wait on (meaning serve)
Uses of Prepositions with Certain Adjectives and in Idiomatic Expressions
angry about (something)
dependent on (upon)
different from (than)
have respect for
in accordance with
|angry at (someone)
angry with (someone)
in regard to
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