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Blog : native teacher

Prepositions are for Preppies

Prepositions are for Preppies

Well, call me a preppy then because I love grammar and prepositions are one of the key elements to dominating the English language.

Let’s start by defining this small yet fundamental part of the language.

  1. The prepositions job is to connect things and is always followed by a noun or a word that is posing as a noun, (like a gerund or infinitive) You can think of this as the word that links the verb to the noun.
  2. We usually use them to describe time, place or movement. But these are easy. Your teachers have been drilling your on these since you were 5! If you need to review the prepositions of time and place, this is a pretty good chart.
  3. The most difficult part about learning the prepositions is when they are attached to verbs or adjectives, forming collocations. This is not to be confused with phrasal verbs which are also formed by verbs and prepositions that, when put together, change the meaning of the verb entirely. For example, I could say, “Everybody get down!” I am using that verb/preposition combination in a very literal way. I want everyone to literally get down on the floor. But I say, “I say Sarah a the club last night. She was getting down!” What I mean to say is, she was dancing like no one was watching.
  4. Prepositions are not the most important part of the sentence and it is because of this that they are hard to hear.

This week we worked on several of the most commonly used prepositional collocations (with both verbs and adjectives) but you will find a more complete verb list here.

So how can we learn and remember these darned things? I would recommend learning the verb with the preposition, as if it were part of the same word.

For example don’t just learn the verb depend because depend is always followed by on.

ie: You can really depend on Frank. If he says he will be there at 10, he will be there at 9:55. 

So, here is a little example:

I always dream about traveling, never dream with, and I am always famous for my cooking and never famous about. When I loose something I always search for it and when I can’t find it I worry about where it might be. I am always addicted to and and never addicted by and if you ask me what I am afraid of I will say snakes. In fact, I am terrified of them, though I am quite fond of animals in general. I am fairly accustomed to living abroad, never accustomed with, and even though I don’t always agree with some of the cultural habits, I would never argue with anyone. Arguing about ideas is useless. Because when you argue, you do not listen to the other person.

If you would like to see more collocations in context, you can click here to read this month’s short story.