Verbs and prepositions

Do you know how to use the prepositions for, from, in, of, on, to and with after verbs?

Look at these examples to see how prepositions are used after verbs.

Can you wait for me to finish my lunch?
I'm relying on my co-worker to answer all my emails while I'm on holiday.
Sun cream protects you from getting burnt.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Verbs and prepositions: Grammar test 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

When a verb is part of a longer sentence, it is often followed by a specific preposition. 

I agree with Mike.
She listens to the radio a lot.
He thanked me for the flowers.

There are no grammatical rules to help you know which preposition is used with which verb, so it's a good idea to try to learn them together. To help you do this, write new vocabulary in your notebook in a sentence or phrase. Here are some common verbs for each preposition.

Verbs with for

They're waiting for a bus.
He apologised for being late. 
I applied for the job but I didn't get it.
How do you ask for a coffee in Polish?
I can't go out tonight because I have to prepare for my interview tomorrow.

Verbs with from

This spray should protect you from mosquitoes.
Has he recovered from the accident yet?
She won an award because she saved someone from drowning.
I suffer from allergies.

Verbs with in

She doesn't believe in coincidences.
Our company specialises in computer software.
You have to work hard if you want to succeed in life.

Verbs with of

I don't approve of hunting animals for their fur.
Our dog died of old age.
This shampoo smells of bananas.

Verbs with on

Their decision will depend on the test results.
The film is based on the novel by Boris Pasternak.
If you make so much noise, I can't concentrate on my work.
Come on! We're relying on you!
We don't agree on anything but we're still good friends.

Verbs with to

What kind of music do you like listening to?
Can I introduce you to my grandfather?
Please refer to the notes at the end for more information.
Nobody responded to my complaint.
She apologised to me the next day.

Verbs with with

I agree with everything you've said.
My assistant will provide you with more information if you need it.
We're finding it difficult to deal with the stress.

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Verbs and prepositions: Grammar test 2

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Language level

B1 English level (intermediate)
Thanks teacher, Teacher, I want to learn one more thing .For example when I look the a noun in the dictionary , I sometimes see a noun+a preposition. You said -for- associated with the noun 'rule'. And I am wondered and looked Longman dictionary. But it doesn't show rule -rule for something-. So does the dictionary make a mistake?or Can we use preposition even if dictionary doesn't show us?
Hello Aysn, Can I comment on your question? ★;:*GOOD}(‘v’)9゙ For your reference, from Cambridge Dictionary. ;) "A newspaper headline is a very short summary of a news report. The grammar of headlines is often non-standard and they can be difficult to read. The main features of the grammar of headlines are the use of a series of nouns and the use of ellipsis (leaving out words which are not necessary). We often leave out articles (a/an, the) and verbs (especially the verb to be): Headlines often use the present simple, even where the report refers to a past event. This is done to make the news seem more dramatic and immediate."

Hello Aysn,

Dictionaries show the most common patterns but not all patterns. A word like rule can be followed by a large number of prepositions, depending on the meaning required: a rule of, a rule for, a rule in, a rule about, a rule against, a rule from etc.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Layria on Thu, 21/01/2021 - 09:51

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Hi all, I´m a bit confused between "agree with" and "agree on". I don´t know how to use them. Is it more accurate to use "agree with "when you talk to someone?. Do you use "agree on" when you have coincidence with someone?. Thanks
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Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 21/01/2021 - 11:40

In reply to by Layria

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Hello Layria,

In general, you agree with a person and you agree on an issue or topic -- for example, 'I agree with you on the importance of regular practice'.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by muratt on Fri, 15/01/2021 - 17:49

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Good evening. I would like to describe the position of an object. Are the below correct? - I have a butcher/supermarket in/on my street/road? - I am currently driving a car in/on a street/road. I've heard 'in' is used in British English. Am I correct? Thank you and Have a good weekend.

Helo muratt,

I would say that 'on' is the most likely choice here, though dialects may vary. I am a British English speaker, by the way.

 

I think in the street has quite limited usage. It tends to mean that someone is standing or walking not on the pavement but in the part of the street where the cars go. This is why a parent might shout to a child 'Don't stand in the street. A car might come along.'

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

With that in mind, are the below correct to describe the location of my house? -Our house is on Link Street. -I live on Link Road. And I guess it would not make any difference, if I use road or avenue instead of street? Thank you for your reply.

Submitted by muratt on Tue, 12/01/2021 - 13:25

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Hello. When the verb is followed by a gerund is it necessary to use a preposition before the gerund. For instance, - He reported her (for) stealing the money. - She regretted (for) saying that. Why some people don't use a preposition between a gerund and after a verb? Thank you.
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Submitted by Kirk on Wed, 13/01/2021 - 07:20

In reply to by muratt

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Hello muratt,

A gerund acts as a noun, so in many cases a gerund can be the object of a verb (with no preposition required). But it can also be the object of a verb + preposition.

In the case of your first example, 'reported her stealing the money' would be an example of the verb 'reported' followed by an object, the noun phrase 'her stealing the money' -- note that here, 'her' is a determiner and the head of the phrase is the gerund 'stealing'.

If the preposition 'for' is used, it's a case of the structure 'report somebody for something' (see entry 2.6 (complain) in the Longman dictionary). In this case, the object of the verb is 'her' and 'for' is the head of a prepositional phrase.

'regret for' is not correct in standard British English. You can see see the typical patterns used with 'regret' (1.1 and 1.2) if you follow the link.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Sun, 10/01/2021 - 11:52

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"You have to work hard if you want to succeed in life." ...Yes! ;)

Submitted by lima9795 on Fri, 08/01/2021 - 19:15

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Can Off off be interpreted as ''On'' i know off of gives meaning of 1) Off 2) From but i have also seen / heard where it is used in ''on'' sense Ex: 1) Based Off the fact 2) apply that method off of it 3) I have purchased it off of Onlie website So can Off of be used as ''On''

Hello lima9795,

Some of the phrases you're suggesting are incorrect or represent non-standard use. For example, 'based off' is not normal usage. It is a mistake that some people make, of course. You can read a little about it here:

https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/based-off-versus-based-on

It's a similar story with the other phrases. Although they may crop up from time to time in certain dialects, they are still non-standard in my view.

 

More generally, while there is a semantic basis for some verb-preposition collocation, it is vague and not tremendously useful in terms of guidance. The system is really quite arbitrary and the best approach, in my view, is to treat it as such and memorise the collocations as you would any other aspect of lexis.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by lima9795 on Sun, 27/12/2020 - 16:39

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unable to decide between ''to'' and ''for'' in most of the sentences 1) are you doing this for them too?? OR 2) are you doing this for them too ?? (context is doing fraud) which one is correct or BOTH can be used ?? 3) for me, it tastes really good OR 4) to me, it tastes really good which one is correct or BOTH can be used ?? Could you please explain diff b/w for me and to me if there are any?

Hi lima9795,

OK, let's compare the sentences :)

1 and 2: the meanings of for and to are quite different, and they are connected to the verb (doing).  

  • do something for someone means to do something to benefit, serve or help someone. In your sentence, doing this for them could mean, for example, that someone committed fraud in order to benefit a criminal gang.
  • do something to someone introduces the object of the action. In your sentence, them refers to the victims of the fraud.

3 and 4: Here, for and to are part of prepositional phrases, for me and to me, and they have the same meaning. They both introduce someone's opinion. These examples are different from 1 and 2, because for and to aren't connected to a verb.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by emmanuelniyomugabo12 on Tue, 29/09/2020 - 19:47

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He likely to speak English when He is in class. He moved to Europe to study. She suffered from malaria.
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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Fri, 14/08/2020 - 14:23

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This spray should have protected me from mosquitoes... ;)

Submitted by gopakumarac on Fri, 31/07/2020 - 13:22

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Which of the following is the correct usage? 1. He asked us to closely observe her changes. 2. He asked us to observe closely her changes. Thank you.

Hello gopakumarac,

What you will see or hear in most writing or speaking is 1. Some people, however, avoid what they call 'split infinitives' (such as 'to closely observe') and so would choose 2 and call 1 incorrect.

I am not one such person; in other words, I would recommend 1.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sandeep Gupta on Sat, 18/07/2020 - 20:29

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Hi Sir, I have a doubt in these two sentences and in similar to like these, i.e., “I need to talk to the principal.” “I need to talk with the principal.” Are these two sentences correct?; Is there any difference in these two sentences?; Can I use "talk to" and "talk with" interchangeably in every sentence?; and If Yes, Can you please suggest me from where can I find list of these types of words? Thank You
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Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 19/07/2020 - 09:18

In reply to by Sandeep Gupta

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Hello Sandeep Gupta,

I think these are used interchangeably in modern English. Talk to may have implied a more one-sided conversation in the past, but I think the distinction no longer applies.

I'm not sure what kind of list you mean. If you mean a list of synonyms or alternatives for a given word or phrase then any thesaurus will provide this. Most computers have a thesaurus built in to the system dictionary.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sandeep Gupta on Sat, 18/07/2020 - 01:03

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Can any sentence have more than one preposition after verb as a prepositional verb without any difference in the meaning of the sentence?

Hello Sandeep Gupta,

I'm not quite sure what you mean here. Could you provide an example?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Zekjg on Mon, 15/06/2020 - 19:37

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Hi, when do I have to use ''it's or ''is'' in the beginning of a sentence? Is it correct if I say ''to be a good doctor is to understand, IS to go beyond a consultation, IS not to receive a patient and follow the protocol...'' Or I should put ''it is'' in place of ''is'' If you can reply me I'll be gratful. Thank you so much.

Hello Zekjg,

There are several possibilities and the difference is really only one of style.

 

  • [using it is] ...to be a good doctor is to understand, it is to go beyond a consultation, it is not to receive a patient and follow the protocol...

 

  • [using it's] ...to be a good doctor is to understand, it's to go beyond a consultation, it's not to receive a patient and follow the protocol...

 

  • [not repeating it] ...to be a good doctor is to understand, is to go beyond a consultation, is not to receive a patient and follow the protocol...

​​​​​​​

  • [not repeating it is] ...to be a good doctor is to understand, to go beyond a consultation, not to receive a patient and follow the protocol...

 

The last is the most natural phrasing in most contexts, but the others are all possible if your goal is to add rhetorical emphasis. For example, if you were giving a speech to a large audience then using a repetitive structure could be effective.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Oh it was very useful! Thanks for helping me.

Submitted by muratt on Thu, 04/06/2020 - 15:01

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Good afternoon. I am trying to learning the differences between in and on prepositions. Would it be possible if you can check if the below sentences are grammatically correct? 1.My grandchildren are playing in the garden. (area garden). 2.Do not ride a motorbike on the garden before we collect the evidence. (surface of the garden). 3. Barbecue is not allowed in the park. (area of the park). 4. A group of children are playing football on the park. (surface of the park). When we say a 'surface' I am assuming it has to a flat surface only e.g. like a table? Thank you in advance and have a good day.

Hello muratt

1 and 3 are correct. For 2 and 4, we'd normally just say 'in' instead of 'on', since the only place you can ride a motorbike or play football is the surface of the park.

There's a good summary of the basic uses of 'in', 'at' and 'on' on this Cambridge Dictionary page -- have a look and see if that helps you make more sense of it.

We're also happy to help you with other specific questions if you have any.

There are many irregular uses of prepositions, so keep up the good work!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Kirk. Could you kindly check to see if these are correct? 1. There is a hole in the wood. 2. There is something in my hair that I need to remove. 3. Children are playing basketball in the court. 4. After the accident, I have gained scars in my face. Thank you.

Hello muratt

I would say 'in the courtyard' (if that's what you mean). We usually say 'on a basketball court', but if you're already saying that they are playing basketball, people will assume you mean they are playing on a basketball court unless you say something different.

I would say 'I got some scars on my face' in number 4. 1 and 2 are good.

Well done!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Fri, 29/05/2020 - 07:00

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It's really amazing.

Submitted by muratt on Tue, 19/05/2020 - 15:27

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Hi. Would it be correct to use 'at' before morning, afternoon and night, if I speak generally? For example, I drink coffee at mornings or I drink coffee in the mornings. I eat cake at the afternoons or I eat cake in the afternoons. I play football at nights or I play football in the nights. Can I use preposition 'at' If I do these activities e.g. every day? Thank you.
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Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 20/05/2020 - 07:44

In reply to by muratt

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Hi muratt,

No, you can't use at in that way.

We say at night, but in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening. We don't use at before these.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by resh on Fri, 01/05/2020 - 18:09

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Hi, which one is correct 1.Mr James has requested for a therapeutic counseling. 2.Mr James has requested therapeutic counseling.

Hi resh,

I think the most likely construction would be this:

Mr. James has requested theraputic counselling.

I can't be completely sure without knowing the full context, but the article is unlikely to be needed here.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Bharati on Mon, 13/04/2020 - 16:54

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Hello, In the example sentence "All norms, including/alongwith/together with/coupled with our moral ones,were violated" Does the prepositional phrase"including/alongwith/together with/coupled with our moral ones" function as adjective phrase modifying "norms" or are they co-ordinating conjunctions ?if not, then what function are the phrases performing? Thanks

Submitted by fleur_y on Sat, 11/04/2020 - 14:06

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Hi teacher. Thank you for providing great materials. How can I different to use the proposition between 'agree on' and 'agree with'?

Hello fleur_y

In general, we agree with someone and we agree on something. So, for example, if you said that we should go to Australia on holiday in 2021 and I thought the same thing, you could say 'I agree with you on that'.

I'd suggest you check the dictionary entry for 'agree' to see more ways to use this verb.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team