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5.7 Prepositions

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify prepositions.
  2. Learn how and when to use prepositions.

A prepositionType of word that connects a noun, pronoun, or verb to another word that describes or modifies it. Common prepositions include in, on, under, near, by, with, and about. is a word that connects a noun or a pronoun to another word in a sentence. 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.

In, At, and On

The prepositions in, at, and on are used to indicate both location and time, but they are used in specific ways. Study Table 5.12, Table 5.13, and Table 5.14 to learn when to use each one.

Table 5.12 In

Preposition Time Example Place Example
in 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

Table 5.13 On

Preposition Time Example Place Example
on 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

Table 5.14 At

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

Exercise 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.

Table 5.15 Verbs + Prepositions

Verb + Preposition Meaning Example
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 his teacher tomorrow.
wait for to await the arrival of someone or something I will wait for my package to arrive.

Tip

It is a good idea to memorize these combinations of verbs plus prepositions. Write them down in a notebook along with the definition and practice using them when you speak.

Exercise 2

On a separate sheet of paper, complete the following sentences by writing the correct preposition after the verb.

  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. Herman 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.

Table 5.16 Adjectives + Prepositions

Adjective + Preposition Meaning Example
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 3

On a separate sheet of paper, complete the following sentences by writing the correct preposition after 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.

Tip

The following adjectives are always followed by the preposition at:

  • Good

    She is really good at chess.

  • Excellent

    Henry is excellent at drawing.

  • Brilliant

    Mary Anne is brilliant at playing the violin.

Key Takeaways

  • The prepositions in, at, and on are used to indicate both location and time, but they are used in specific ways.
  • The preposition in is used when expressing the following: year, month, season, time of day (not with night), country, state, and city.
  • The preposition on is used to express day, date, and specific days or dates and surfaces, streets, and transportation modes.
  • The preposition at is used for expressions of time, with night, and with addresses and locations.
  • Prepositions often follow verbs to create expressions with distinct meanings that are unique to English.
  • Prepositions also follow adjectives to create expressions with distinct meanings that are unique to English.

Writing Application

Write about a happy childhood memory using as many prepositions followed by verbs and adjectives as you can. Use at least ten. When you are finished, exchange papers with a classmate and correct any preposition errors you find.