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.'
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 or are going to:
'I attended a meeting in Scotland last week.'
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 are using the right prepositions with verbs when you write or speak in English.