Prepositions are some of the most commonly used words in any language. However, they can also be some of the trickiest to use correctly. In this blog post, we will take a look at how to use prepositions effectively in your ESL writing. We’ll discuss common mistakes students make and provide tips for using prepositions correctly. So let’s get started!
Understanding the use of prepositions in written English is, for many students, a difficult area of study. This article aims to provide language learners with an introduction to the most common uses of prepositions in English.
What are Prepositions?
Prepositions are words that are used to link other words together. They usually occur before a noun or a pronoun to show some sort of relationship between that object and something else. For example, ‘in the Netherlands’ is a prepositional phrase which acts as an adjective to describe the country. Prepositions are also used in many common idiomatic expressions.
Relationship Between Things: Prepositions are important because they show relationships between things. Although they can be used before any noun or pronoun, their most common use is to make determiners (such as ‘the’ and ‘this’) more specific.
This book – one book; this book – the specific book you are holding.
Different Types of Prepositions
There are many different types of prepositions, including spatial, temporal, and directional prepositions. Spatial prepositions show a relationship between two objects or ideas, such as ‘in’ or ‘on’. Temporal prepositions show a time relationship. Directional prepositions show the direction of an object from another object.
Let’s look at some examples:
- This book is on the table. (spatial)
- We’ll be back in an hour. (temporal)
- He left the house and walked into town. (directional)
Preposition of Time
How to Use Prepositions?
Prepositions can be used in a variety of ways, depending on the context and the speaker’s intention. The common mistake made by language learners is to use the preposition in its literal meaning, when in fact this could change the meaning of the sentence.
- He lives near me . (means ‘He lives in/near my house’)
- He lives near . (meaning unclear)
The same goes for other prepositions such as ‘on’, ‘in’, and ‘at’. To avoid making such mistakes, it is important to learn the most common idiomatic expressions as well as keep an eye on prepositions that can mean different things.
1- Prepositions in Idiomatic Expressions
The English language is full of idioms – we use them every day without realizing it! Idiomatic expressions are combinations of words which express different ideas, feelings, or situations without using literal meaning.
- She is out of her mind. (crazy)
- We’re looking forward to the weekend. (excited)
- He’s fallen for her. (in love)
If you want to use idiomatic expressions correctly and avoid confusion, it’s important to learn them as part of your study. It may also help to talk with a language coach or another person who speaks English fluently.
2- Prepositions at the End of Sentences
There are some prepositions which you shouldn’t use at the end of a sentence (particularly those beginning with ‘of’ or ‘for’).
- I’m not interested in this . (correct)
- I’m not interested of this . (incorrect)
These mistakes are commonly made because many languages put prepositions at the end of sentences, so it is more natural for language learners to do so. All languages have some exceptions, however.
3- Use of Different Prepositions
To keep your writing correct, it is important to use the correct preposition when talking about things or people. Here are some common examples:
of = something belonging to someone/something – the car of my friend, money for the project
for = duration of time – I’m here for three days, We are looking at the situation for a long time
about = something related to an idea or topic – Let’s talk about the meaning of life, I have news about your test results
with = someone who shares an opinion, experience, or relationship with you – He is my husband of 20 years.
for = someone who is bringing or providing something – She’s dog-sitting for her sister
of = separation between two things – The coffee shop is in front of the restaurant
By learning which prepositions are most commonly used in conjunction with particular verbs, you can make your writing correct and understandable even if you are not a native speaker.
Why Learning the Use of Prepositions in Important?
English learners should focus on understanding the use of prepositions in spoken English to improve their comprehension skills. This is a skill which can be improved with practice.
- By learning the correct usage of prepositions, you can avoid common mistakes made by non-native speakers and communicate more effectively in English.
- Prepositions are used very frequently in spoken English – they help to make our language coherent and less confusing, as well as to give it a more natural, rhythmical tone.
- As language learners progress in their English studies, they should also pay attention to the prepositions that are most commonly used in conjunction with particular verbs. Knowing which prepositions are more common than others will help speakers to communicate more easily with non-native speakers.
- To make your English writing even better, learn the most common idiomatic expressions by heart. These are very frequently used phrases which are difficult for language learners to understand, but are easy to get wrong.
- By learning common prepositions that change meaning based on context, English speakers can improve their writing skills and avoid confusion with non-native speakers. Patience, practice, and study will help you to improve over time!
Practice using prepositions in everyday conversations and writing to improve your fluency and accuracy. You can also use prepositions in a sentence with a friend to check for comprehension and ask them questions about their understanding of the meaning of prepositions . This will help you to identify any areas where they have difficulty understanding, so that you can then use simpler language to communicate more clearly.
20 Phrases with Prepositions
There are many phrases that use prepositions, such as:
- behind someone’s back
- fall in love with somebody
- for the first time
- get into trouble over something
- go out on a date with someone
- reach an agreement/compromise about something
- speak to somebody about something
- spend time with someone
- talk over something with somebody
- try to prove a point about something
- write off a loss/expense on something
- be divided into groups
- come out of someone’s mouth
- fail to do something that you’ve promised to do
- get through somebody’s thick head
- in front of someone
- make up an excuse for something
- rely on somebody to do something
- tired out by something
- try to decide who to vote for