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:
attentionto: His attentionto detail is excellent. causeof: What is the causeof all this pollution? componentof: Liquid hydrogen is one componentof rocket fuel. contributionto: The scientist made many important contributionsto his field. curefor: There’s no curefor the common cold. decreasein: There has been a decreasein crime over the last decade. demandfor: There’s not much demandfor paper bags anymore. difficultywith: She’s been having difficultywith her oldest daughter lately. effectof (something) on (something /someone): The effectofpollutionon the children is severe. exampleof: Give me an exampleof the unfairness that you’ve experienced. exceptionto: The only exceptionto this rule is when you’re sick. excusefor: There’s no excusefor being late. experiencewith: I’ve had no experiencewith this type of problem. experton [or in]: He’s an experton European history. formof: Watching TV is a formof homework in ESL classes. groupof: A groupof students is meeting after lunch to discuss the final exam. improvementin: There’s been no improvementin your father’s health. increasein: In the late 1940s there was a sharp increasein population. influenceon: My grandfather had a big influenceon my choice of career. interestin: She has no interestin astronomy. originof: What is the originof this word? possibilityof: There’s absolutely no possibilityof our arrival on time. priceof: The priceof gasoline has been increasing. probabilityof: There’s a 60% possibilityof rain tomorrow. qualityof: The qualityof cars made in that country is quite high. reasonfor: There’s no good reasonfor forgetting your anniversary. relianceon: He’s developed a relianceon sleeping pills. solutionto: I don’t see an easy solutionto this problem. supplyof: We have a good supplyof ice for the party. teamof: A teamof doctors is on its way to the affected area.
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:
accountfor: How do you accountfor the missing $500 accuse (someone) of: The police accusedhimof murder. adjustto: It will take him a while to adjustto the the new culture. agreewith / to / on: I don’t agreewith you.
She won’t agreeto separate bank accounts.
We don’t agreeon many things, but we agreeon this. apologizefor: He apologizedfor forgetting to pick her up. applyto: She’s going to applyto at least three universities. approveof: I don’t approveof your new boyfriend. arguewith: He argueswith his brother all the time. arriveat: They arrivedat school at 8:30. askfor: Go to the teacher and askfor help. attach (something) to: They want you to attacha phototo your application form. beginwith: Why don’t we beginwith your personal information believein: The children still believein Santa Claus. belongto: Those glasses don’t belongto me. blame (someone) for: She blamesmefor everything that goes wrong. careabout / for: I don’t careabout winning.
She caresfor her sick mother. compare (something/someone) with: CompareCokewith Pepsi and you’ll find that Pepsi is sweeter. competewith: The shelves come in a box completewith instructions on how to assemble. complainabout: It’s upsetting to be around people who complainabout things all the time. concentrateon: I’ll make dinner, and you concentrateon finishing your homework. consistof: This recipe consistsof flour, milk, eggs, honey and vanilla. contributeto: Cars that use gasoline contributeto global warming. cooperatewith: We only want team members who can cooperatewith each other. counton: You can counton me to support you for class president. (=depend on) cover (something/someone) with: He coveredherwith a blanket after she fell asleep on the sofa. dealwith: How do you dealwith a child who won’t obey you? decideon: It’s time to decideon a wall color for this room. dependon: We know we can dependon our babysitter. devoteto: Everyone knows she’s devotedto her family. dream of/about: Last night I dreamedof (about) hiking across a desert. engagein: The children are not allowed to engagein online chat rooms. escapefrom: Three men escapedfrom prison over the weekend. excelin: His son excelsin math and science. fightfor: The rebels are fightingfor independence. forgive (someone) for: She’ll never forgivehimfor missing her birthday party. hide (something) from (someone): The parents hidthe presentsfromtheir children. hopefor: This is the best outcome I could ever hopefor. insiston: I insiston seeing the manager. interferewith: It’s a bad idea to interferewith a police investigation. look forwardto: We look forwardto your arrival in our beautiful city. objectto: She objectsto anyone calling her by her first name. participatein: If you don’t want to participatein the game, you can leave now. payfor: He paidfor his purchase with a credit card. planon: I didn’t planon anyone getting hurt. prayfor: Let’s prayfor sunshine on the day of the picnic. prevent (someone) from: We need to preventhimfrom hurting himself. protect (someone) from: There are many vaccines to protectyoufrom disease. provide (someone) with: The school providedeach studentwith a laptop computer. recoverfrom: It took her ten days to recoverfrom her surgery. referto: He referredto a dictionary to check the spelling relyon: She relieson her father for financial support. rescue (someone) from: We rescuedour catfrom the SPCA. respondto: She wouldn’t respondto our questions. resultin: The information we gave the police resultedin his arrest. searchfor: They searchedfor the perfect pizza. shoutat: Don’t shoutat the children. stareat: Would you please stop staringat me? stop (someone) from: My friend stoppedmefrom making a big mistake. subscribeto: How many years have you subscribedto this magazine? substitutefor: Sometimes there’s no substitutefor hard work. succeedin: He succeededin opening the locked door. take advantageof: We should take advantageof the 2-for-1 sale. take careof: She has to take careof her younger sister this weekend. thank (someone) for: Thankyoufor inviting me to your wonderful party. votefor: Who are you going to votefor? waitfor: Waitfor me in front of the library.
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