Introduction:

Any person that is learning or has learnt English knows how disorganised and complex the language is. And one of the most frustrating parts of English is prepositions. Their use often doesn't make any sense. And this is especially the case when used after verbs or adjectives, when the use of a preposition can change the meaning of the verb, or different prepositions are required after the verb for different objects/nouns.

In this first of two online exercises, we will look at a number of examples of verbs/adjectives and their prepositions in English. The focus here is on those verbs and adjectives in English where learners often make mistakes when using a preposition.

Click here to see more verbs and their prepositions in the next part of this exercise.


Verbs and prepositions

English is a language that is very disorganised. Although there are some rules, there are a lot of exceptions. Incorrect use of prepositions in English is very common for non-native speakers. And this has two main reasons:

1. Learners focus more on the main parts of a sentence: It is very normal when learning English to concentrate on learning the big words in a sentence (i.e. the verb, the nouns, the adjectives etc...) rather than on the smaller parts of a sentence, like prepositions.

2. Learners translate the verb and preposition from their own language to English: Some languages don't have as many prepositions as English does. In addition, the preposition after a verb is often different in the learner's language to what is used in English (or sometimes no preposition is used at all with verb).


Unfortunately, there is no easy solution. Like learning a phrase or an expression, you need to learn and remember each verb and preposition. Like native speakers of English you will have to learn them through practice and exposure.

Examples of verbs and prepositions

Below are a number of examples of verbs and their prepositions which are often different in other languages:

'to thank somebody'

When we use this in English and want to give the reason why you are thanking them, you need to use the preposition 'for' before you say the reason:

'I thank you for coming to the meeting.'

'to attend'

Like many verbs in English, 'to attend' has different meanings. When we use it to mean 'to go to something' (e.g. 'I'm going to a party'), it doesn't use a preposition before you say where you went:

'I attended a meeting in Scotland last week.'

'to complain'

In some cases, the use of different prepositions after a verb changes the meaning of the sentence. For example, think about the difference in meaning between the following two uses of the verb 'to complain':

'He complained to the receptionist in the hotel.'

'He complained about the receptionist in the hotel.'

In the first sentence by using the preposition 'to', it means that the man told the receptionist about something he was not happy about in the hotel.

But by changing the preposition to 'about' in the second sentence, it now means that the receptionist was the thing he wasn't happy about and he told another person about the problem he had with him or her.


As you can see from the last example, using the correct preposition after a verb is very important. So now do the below quiz to make sure you areusing the right prepositions when you write or speak in English.


 Link to Dictionary


Quiz: English verbs and prepositions part 1

Complete the following 15 sentences with a preposition from the question's selection box which you believe is correct for each question. In some of the questions a preposition is not necessary, so for those, select the blank answer in the selection box. You can use each preposition more than once. It is important to focus on the context and object when deciding. Click on the "Check Answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question. The first is an Additional Information Icon "". Click on this for extra information on the word/phrase and for a translation. The second is a Pronunciation Icon "". Click on this to listen to the pronunciation of the word/phrase and to do a pronunciation speaking test.

1. I need you to explain Peter the updated process.          

Explain to:
(verb & prep) 'to explain to'. The preposition 'to' is used when the object is a person. When the object is a thing (e.g. process, plan etc..), no preposition is required, e.g. 'he explained the plan this morning'. In Spanish: "explicar".

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Explain to:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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2. I'm waiting your answer.          

Waiting for:
(verb & prep) 'to wait for'. The preposition 'for' is used for when the object is either a thing or a person, e.g. 'I'm going to wait for John in reception.' In Spanish: "esperar".

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Waiting for:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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3. We're keeping the money until next week.          

Keeping:
(verb) With the verb 'to keep', when the object is a thing (e.g. key, report etc..), it doesn't have a preposition. In Spanish: "quedarse con".

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Keeping:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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4. I thought you when I heard that song.          

Thought of:
(verb & prep) 'to think of', is normally used with memories. The object can be either a person or a thing. It suggests a sudden and short period of thought (for minutes), e.g. 'I've just thought of an idea to help us' In Spanish: "pensar en".

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Thought of:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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5. They are thinking going to Rome at Easter.          

Thinking about:
(verb & prep) 'to think about', suggests that you have thought a long time about something, e.g. 'you need to think about your future!' The object can be either a person or a thing. In Spanish: "pensar en".

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Thinking about:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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6. Don't worry it. It'll go according to plan.          

Worry about:
(verb & prep) 'to worry about' is used when the object is either a person or a thing. In Spanish: "preocuparse por".

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Worry about:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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7. Have you heard your mother recently?          

Heard from:
(verb & prep) 'to hear from' is used for contact with a person. It is not only for spoken contact, but also for written contact. In Spanish: "oir a".

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Heard from:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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8. Have you heard the news the merger?          

Heard about:
(verb & prep) 'to hear about' is used for information about a person or a thing, e.g. 'I heard about Jennifer, I'm really pleased she got the promotion'. In Spanish: "oir/saber".

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Heard about:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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9. It's a bad situation, we really should do something it. (to resolve something)          

Do something about:
(verb & prep) 'to do something about' is used when you need to act on or resolve something important. The object can be either a person or a thing. The negative uses 'anything' instead of 'something' (although nothing is possible), e.g. 'She didn't do anything about him!' In Spanish: "hacer a".

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Do something about:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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10. We've paid for it, so we should do something it. (to use something)          

Do something with:
(verb & prep) 'to do something with' is similar in this context to 'use'. The object can be either a person or a thing, but it is more common with a thing (e.g. report, machine, information etc..). The negative uses 'anything' instead of 'something' (although nothing is possible), e.g. 'She didn't do anything with information!' In Spanish: "usar".

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Do something with:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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11. Everybody blamed me the accident.          

Blamed for:
(verb & prep) When the event or thing that causes the problem follows the person who receives the blame, we use the preposition 'for'. In Spanish: "culpar a alguien de".

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Blamed for:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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12. Everybody blamed the accident me.          

Blamed on:
(verb & prep) When the person who receives the blame follows the event or thing that causes the problem, we use the preposition 'on'. In Spanish: "culpar de algo a".

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Blamed on:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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13. They will provided us all the necessary documents at the service desk.          

Provided with:
(verb & prep) 'to provide somebody with' the preposition is only used with things (e.g. key, pass, information etc...). It is a more formal way of saying 'to give', e.g. 'he gave me all the information.' In Spanish: "suministrar algo a".

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Provided with:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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14. We need to arrange the meeting soon.          

Arrange:
(verb) It has a similar meaning 'to organise'. With things, a preposition is never used. With people/organisations, the preposition 'with' is used, e.g.'he's arranging it with them.' In Spanish: "organizar".

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Arrange:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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15. I don't trust him at all!          

Trust:
(verb) A preposition is never used either when the object is a person or a thing. In Spanish: "tener confianza en".

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Trust:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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Click here to see more verbs and their prepositions in next part of this exercise.





Practice

Now that you understand the new vocabulary, practice them by creating your own sentences in English with the new words/phrases.

Blair English online classes