Using the wrong preposition
Mistakes are often made by using the wrong preposition after certain words. The following list includes the words which most often give trouble:
1. Absorbed (= very much interested) in, not at
Don’t say: The man was absorbed at his work.
✓ Say: The man was absorbed in his work.
2. Accuse of, not for
Don’t say: She accused the man for stealing.
✓ Say: She accused the man of stealing.
Note: Charge takes with –> The man was charged with murder.
3. Accustomed to, not with
Don’t say: I’m accustomed with hot weather.
✓ Say: I’m accustomed to hot weather.
Note: Also used to –> He is used to the heat.
4. Afraid of, not from
Don’t say: Laura is afraid from the dog.
✓ Say: Laura is afraid of the dog.
5. Aim at, not on or against
Don’t say: She aimed on (or against) the target.
✓ Say: She aimed at the target.
Note: Use the preposition at to denote direction –> throw at, shoot at, fire at, shoot at. Shoot (without the at) means to kill –> He shot a bird (= he hit and killed it)
6. Angry with, not against
Don’t say: The teacher was angry against him.
✓ Say: The teacher was angry with him.
Note 1: We get angry with a person but at a thing –> He was angry at the weather foot with the weather.
Note 2: Also annoyed with, vexed with, indignant with a person, but at a thing.
7. Anxious (= troubled) about, not for
Don’t say: They’re anxious for his health.
✓ Say:They’re anxious about his health.
Note: Anxious meaning wishing very much takes for –> Parents are anxious for their children’s success.
8. Arrive at, not to
Don’t say: We arrived to the village at night.
✓ Say: We arrived at the village at night.
Note: Use arrive in with countries and large cities. Mr Smith has arrived in London (or New York, India, etc)
9. Ashamed of, not from
Don’t say: He’s now ashamed from his conduct.
✓ Say: He’s now ashamed of his conduct.
Note: It isn’t correct to use ashamed of meaning shy. Ashamed means feeling shame or guilt about something. Shy means feeling nervous with someone. Instead of saying –> I’m ashamed (or shamed) of my teacher, say I’m shy of my teacher.
10. Believe in, not to
Don’t say: We believe to God.
✓ Say: We believe in God.
Note: To believe in means to have faith in. To believe (without the in) means to regard something as true / believe everything he says
11. Boast of or about, not for
Don’t say: James boasted for his strength.
✓ Say: James boasted of (or about) his strength.
12. Careful of, with or about, not for
Don’t say: Hike’s very careful for her health.
✓ Say: Elke’s very careful of/about her health.
Or: You should be more careful with your money.
Note: Take care of –> He takes care of his money.
13. Travel by train, etc., not with the train, etc.
Don’t say: He travelled with the train yesterday.
✓ Say: He travelled by train yesterday.
Note: We say by train, by boat, by plan, by bike; also, by land, by sea. by air, by bus; in a bus or on a bus; by car or in a car, by taxi or in a taxi; on horse-back, on a donkey, on a bicycle; on foot.
14. Complain about, not for
Don’t say: Annette complained for the weather.
✓ Say: Annette complained about the weather.
Note: When talking about illness we use complain of. We say –> She complained of a sore throat.
15. Composed of, not from
Don’t say: Our class is composed from thirty students.
✓ Say: Our class is composed of thirty students.
16. Confidence in, not to
Don’t say: I have great confidence to you.
✓ Say: I have great confidence in you.
Note: In confidence –> Let me tell you something in confidence (= as a secret)
17. Conform to, not with
Don’t say: We must conform with the rules.
✓ Say: We must conform to the rules.
Note: comply takes with –> We’ll comply with your request.
18. Congratulate on, not for
Don’t say: I congratulate you for your success.
✓ Say: I congratulate you on your success.
19. Consist of, not from
Don’t say: A year consists from twelve months.
✓ Say: A year consists of twelve months.
Note: Take great cate never to use consist in the passive form
20. Covered with, not by
Don’t say:The mountains are covered by snow.
✓ Say: The mountains are covered with/in snow.
21. Cure of, not from
Don’t say:The man was cured from his illness.
✓ Say: The man was cured of his illness.
Note: The noun cure takes for –> There’s no cure for that disease.
22. Depend on or upon, not from
Don’t say: It depends from her.
✓ Say: It depends on (or upon) her.
Note: Rely on or upon –> I can’t rely on for upon him.
23. Deprive of, not from
Don’t say: Nelson Mandela was deprived from his freedom.
✓ Say: Nelson Mandela was deprived of his freedom.
24. Die of an illness, not from an illness
Don’t say: Many people have died from malaria.
✓ Say: Many people have died of malaria.
Note: People die of illness, of hunger, of thirst, of or from wounds, from overwork; by violence, by the sword, by pestilence; in battle, for their country, for a cause, through neglect; on the scaffold; at the stake.
25. Different from, not than
Don’t say: My book is different than yours.
✓ Say: My book is different from yours.
26. Disappointed by, about or at, not from
Don’t say: Phillipa was disappointed from the low mark she got in the test.
✓ Say: Phillipa was disappointed by/about/at the low mark she got in the test.
Don’t say: Jane was disappointed from her son.
✓ Say: Jane was disappointed with/in her son.
Note: Before a person we use with or in, before a thing we use at, about or by and before a gerund we use at; Keith is very disappointed at not winning the prize. We use that (optional before a new clause) –> I was disappointed that I didn’t get an invitation.
27. Divide into parts, not in parts
Don’t say: I divided the cake in four parts.
✓ Say: I divided the cake into four parts.
Note: A thing may be divided in half or in two –> Paul divided the apple in half (or in two).
28. No doubt (n) of or about, not for
Don’t say: I’ve no doubt for his ability.
✓ Say: I’ve no doubt of (or about) his ability.
Note: Doubtful of –> I am doubtful of his ability to pass.
29. Dressed in, not with
Don’t say: The woman was dressed with black.
✓ Say: The woman was dressed in black.
Note: “The woman was in black.” is also correct
30. Exception to, not of
Don’t say:This is an exception of the rule.
✓ Say: This is an exception to the rule.
Note: We say with the exception of –> She lined all her subjects with the exception of physics.
31. Exchange for, not by
Don’t say: He exchanged his collection of matchboxes by some foreign stamps.
✓ Say: He exchanged his collection of matchboxes for some foreign stamps.
Note: In exchange for He gone them his old car in exchange for o new one.
32. Fail in, not from
Don’t say: Steven failed from maths last year.
✓ Say: Steven failed in maths last year.
33. Full of, not with or from
Don’t say: The jar was full with (or from) oil.
✓ Say: The jar was full of oil.
Note: Fill takes with –> Jane filled the glass with water.
34. Get rid of, not from
Don’t say: I’ll be glad to get rid from him.
✓ Say: I’ll be glad to get rid of him.
35. Glad about, not from or with
Don’t say: Francis was glad from (or with) receiving your letter.
✓ Say: Francis was glad about receiving your letter.
36. Good at, not in
Don’t say: My sister’s good in Maths.
✓ Say: My sister’s good at Maths.
Note 1: Bad at, clever at, quick at, slow at, etc. However, weak in –> He’s weak in grammar.
Note 2: “He’s good in class.” means that his conduct is good
37. Guard against, not from
Don’t say: You must guard from bad habits.
✓ Say: You must guard against bad habits.
38. Guilty of, not for
Don’t say: He was found guilty for murder.
✓ Say: He was found guilty of murder
39. Independent of, not from
Don’t say: Clare’s independent from her parents.
✓ Say: Clare’s independent of her parents.
Note: We say dependent on –> A child is dependent on its parents.
40. Indifferent to, not for
Don’t say: They’re indifferent for politics.
✓ Say: They’re indifferent to politics.