Prepositions after nouns

There’s no easy way to know which preposition follows a noun.  The best way to learn this grammar is to learn the noun and preposition together.  If there’s a verb after the preposition, it must of course be in the gerund form.  Here is a list of the most common noun + preposition combinations:

attention to:  His attention to detail is excellent.
cause of:  What is the cause of all this pollution?
component of:  Liquid hydrogen is one component of rocket fuel.
contribution to:  The scientist made many important contributions to his field.
cure for:  There’s no cure for the common cold.
decrease in:  There has been a decrease in crime over the last decade.
demand for:  There’s not much demand for paper bags anymore.
difficulty with:  She’s been having difficulty with her oldest daughter lately.
effect of (something) on (something / someone):  The effect of pollution on the children is severe.
example of:  Give me an example of the unfairness that you’ve experienced.
exception to:  The only exception to this rule is when you’re sick.
excuse for:  There’s no excuse for being late.
experience with: I’ve had no experience with this type of problem.
expert on [or in]:  He’s an expert on European history.
form of:  Watching TV is a form of homework in ESL classes.
group of:  A group of students is meeting after lunch to discuss the final exam.
improvement in:  There’s been no improvement in your father’s health.
increase in:  In the late 1940s there was a sharp increase in population.
influence on:  My grandfather had a big influence on my choice of career.
interest in:  She has no interest in astronomy.
origin of:  What is the origin of this word?
possibility of:  There’s absolutely no possibility of our arrival on time.
price of:  The price of gasoline has been increasing.
probability of:  There’s a 60% possibility of rain tomorrow.
quality of:  The quality of cars made in that country is quite high.
reason for:  There’s no good reason for forgetting your anniversary.
reliance on:  He’s developed a reliance on sleeping pills.
solution to:  I don’t see an easy solution to this problem.
supply of:  We have a good supply of ice for the party.
team of:  A team of doctors is on its way to the affected area.

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Prepositions after verbs

There’s no easy way to know which preposition follows a verb.  The best way to learn this grammar is to learn the verb and preposition together.  If there’s a verb after the preposition, it must of course be in the gerund form.  Here is a list of the most common verb + preposition combinations:

account for:  How do you account for the missing $500
accuse (someone) of:  The police accused him of murder.
adjust to:  It will take him a while to adjust to the the new culture.
agree with / to / on:  I don’t agree with you.
She won’t agree to separate bank accounts.
We don’t agree on many things, but we agree on this.
apologize for:  He apologized for forgetting to pick her up.
apply to:  She’s going to apply to at least three universities.
approve of:  I don’t approve of your new boyfriend.
argue with:  He argues with his brother all the time.
arrive at:  They arrived at school at 8:30.
ask for:  Go to the teacher and ask for help.
attach (something) to: They want you to attach a photo to your application form.
begin with:  Why don’t we begin with your personal information
believe in:  The children still believe in Santa Claus.
belong to: Those glasses don’t belong to me.
blame (someone) for:  She blames me for everything that goes wrong.
care about / for:  I don’t care about winning.
She cares for her sick mother.
compare (something/someone) withCompare Coke with Pepsi and you’ll find that Pepsi is sweeter.
compete with:  The shelves come in a box complete with instructions on how to assemble.
complain about:  It’s upsetting to be around people who complain about things all the time.
concentrate on:  I’ll make dinner, and you concentrate on finishing your homework.
consist of:  This recipe consists of flour, milk, eggs, honey and vanilla.
contribute to:  Cars that use gasoline contribute to global warming.
cooperate with:  We only want team members who can cooperate with each other.
count on:  You can count on me to support you for class president.  (=depend on)
cover (something/someone) with:  He covered her with a blanket after she fell asleep on the sofa.
deal with:  How do you deal with a child who won’t obey you?
decide on:  It’s time to decide on a wall color for this room.
depend on:  We know we can depend on our babysitter.
devote to:  Everyone knows she’s devoted to her family.
dream of / about:  Last night I dreamed of (about) hiking across a desert.
engage in:  The children are not allowed to engage in online chat rooms.
escape from:  Three men escaped from prison over the weekend.
excel in:  His son excels in math and science.
fight for:  The rebels are fighting for independence.
forgive (someone) for:  She’ll never forgive him for missing her birthday party.
hide (something) from (someone):  The parents hid the presents from their children.
hope for:  This is the best outcome I could ever hope for.
insist on:  I insist on seeing the manager.
interfere with:  It’s a bad idea to interfere with a police investigation.
look forward to:  We look forward to your arrival in our beautiful city.
object to:  She objects to anyone calling her by her first name.
participate in:  If you don’t want to participate in the game, you can leave now.
pay for:  He paid for his purchase with a credit card.
plan on:  I didn’t plan on anyone getting hurt.
pray for:  Let’s pray for sunshine on the day of the picnic.
prevent (someone) from:  We need to prevent him from hurting himself.
protect (someone) from:  There are many vaccines to protect you from disease.
provide (someone) with:  The school provided each student with a laptop computer.
recover from:  It took her ten days to recover from her surgery.
refer to:  He referred to a dictionary to check the spelling
rely on:  She relies on her father for financial support.
rescue (someone) from:  We rescued our cat from the SPCA.
respond to:  She wouldn’t respond to our questions.
result in:  The information we gave the police resulted in his arrest.
search for:  They searched for the perfect pizza.
shout at:  Don’t shout at the children.
stare at:  Would you please stop staring at me?
stop (someone) from:  My friend stopped me from making a big mistake.
subscribe to:  How many years have you subscribed to this magazine?
substitute for:  Sometimes there’s no substitute for hard work.
succeed in:  He succeeded in opening the locked door.
take advantage of:  We should take advantage of the 2-for-1 sale.
take care of:  She has to take care of her younger sister this weekend.
thank (someone) forThank you for inviting me to your wonderful party.
vote for:  Who are you going to vote for?
wait forWait for me in front of the library.

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Prepositions are short words that give the relationship between things, such as A is near B or A is under B.  These words need to be learned to use them correctly.  Here is a list of the most common prepositions with examples.

above:  in a higher place (usually not moving)
The family lives above the store.
There were fireworks in the sky above us.

across:  on the other side of, from one side to the other
My best friend lives across the street
He wrote his name across the top of the page.

after:  later in time
She stayed after class to talk to the teacher.
After the party a few people decided to go get some fast food.

along:  down the side of
There was yellow paint along the curb in front of the restaurant.
The ship sailed south along the coast.

among:  between (three or more things)
There were weeds among the flowers.
They talked among themselves until the teacher came back.

around:  at an equal distance from the center, at about (time)
The children gathered around the teacher to listen to the story.
Her parents said they would be home around 11:00.

at:  in a location, during a time
I think she is still at school.
He left work at three o’clock.

before: earlier in time than
He arrived at school before his sister.
The children finished all their homework before bedtime.

behind:  on the back side of
The TV remote fell behind the sofa.
The boy never washes behind his ears.

below:  under (without touching)
Write your address below your name.
The sun sank below the horizon.

beside:  next to, on the side of
She sat down beside her best friend.
Beside the plum tree there is a peach tree.

besides:  in addition to
Besides being a good scholar, he was also a good athlete.
Besides a wife he has a mother to support.

between:  in the middle of (two things)
They live in a small town between Seattle and Vancouver.
I’ll be home between 6:00 and 6:30.

by:  near, close to, before (time)
The restaurant is by the river, so it has a beautiful view.
You must be home by 6:00 because that’s when dinner is served.

close to:  near
He works close to his apartment, so he doesn’t need a car.
We should leave because it’s getting close to midnight.

down:  to a lower position
They had to hike down the mountain in the dark.
He rode down the escalator to the parking lot.

during:  at the same time as
They had a long conversation during dinner.
She fell asleep during the movie.

far from:  at a big distance
I live in a quiet place far from the noise of the big city.
We came from a country far from here.

for:  with the object or purpose of
This cupboard is for all your plates.
Is that present for me or for my brother?

from:  beginning at, originating at
This perfume comes from France.
This train runs from Chicago to New York.

in:  inside, at (time)
The children went in the house when it started to rain.
He was born in 1996.

in front of:  on the near side of
He waited in front of the store until it opened.
I’ll meet you in front of the library.

inside:  on the inner side of
It was cold inside the house, so they turned on the heat.
Inside the envelope there was a twenty-dollar bill.

into:  to the inside of
He put his wallet back into his pocket.
They had to go into the bank to open an account.

like:  similar to
He is just like his father.
There’s nothing like a cold drink on a hot day like this.

near (to):  close to
She lives near her parent’s house.
My bank is near to my workplace.

next to:  on the side of, beside
His apartment building is next to a coffee shop.
Next to the TV there’s a small table.

of:  belonging to, containing, being a part of
They ate the whole box of candy in ten minutes.
The mother of my best friend is coming to town.

off:  removed from
Please clear your dishes off the table when you’re finished.
Take a card off the top of the pile and look at it.

on:  sitting or lying on the surface of, at the time of
There is a dictionary on the shelf.
They go to the gym on Tuesdays and Fridays.

on top of:  touching the top part of
The cats like to lie on top of the fridge because it’s warm there.
There was snow on top of the mountain.

onto:  moving to a place on
The dog jumped onto the sofa.
The giant wave crashed onto the beach. 

out of:  to a position outside
All the children ran out of the classroom when the bell sounded.
Everyone was out of the theater when the fire truck arrived.

outside (of):  on the exterior part of
Little children often color outside of the lines.
Outside his house there is a huge oak tree.

over:  in a higher place (moving)
The plane flew over the city.
The boys jumped over the fence.

through:  in one side and out the other, from beginning to end
We drove through Denver in the middle of the night.
The baby slept through the night.

to:  in the direction of
They don’t have to go to school on Saturday.
I will give this present to my friend.

toward(s):  in the direction of  (no difference between toward and towards)
Everyone moved towards the exits.
She ran toward the house.

under:  on the bottom of
I found your keys under the newspaper.
The boys keep their toys under the bed.

up:  to a higher position
He climbed up the ladder to the roof.
The cat is up the tree.

upon:  up and on
The cat was sitting upon the lowest branch of the tree.
The town was built upon a cliff overlooking the sea.

with:  together, having, using
He had a bad fight with his father and left the house.
I need a bag with a handle.

without:  not having
He arrived at school without his homework.
She sent the children to bed without dinner.

There is one rule for the prepositions in, on and at, which are used with both times and places.  Generally, for the largest times and places, use in, for those that are smaller use on, and for the smallest use at.

Examples of places:

John lives in North America.  (continent)
John lives in Canada.  (country)
John lives in British Columbia.  (province or state)
John lives in Vancouver.  (city)
John lives in Kitsilano.  (area of the city)
John lives on Vine Street.
John lives on the corner of 7th Avenue and Vine Street
John lives on the 4th floor.
John lives at 7th and Vine.  (cross streets)
John lives at 2395 Vine Street, apartment 402.  (address)

Examples of times:

John was born in the 20th century.
John was born in the 1990s.  (decade)
John was born in 1996.  (year)
John was born in the spring.  (season)
John was born in May.  (month)
John was born in the fourth week of May.  (week)
John was born in the evening of May 26.  (part of day)*
John was born on May 26.  (date)
John was born on Tuesday.  (day of the week)
John was born at 6:30.  (hour)

* We say:  in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening, at night

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