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

Submitted by Swan Htet Myint on Sat, 30/10/2021 - 12:04

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I have learnt that prepositional phrase can be adjective,for example,The girl in the room and adverbial phrase.I would like to know
the difference between preposition after verbs and adverbial prepositional phrase.

Hello Swan Htet Myint,

The explanation on this page is about verbs that require a preposition before their object. In a sense, the preposition doesn't change the meaning of the verb; it's just that we use the preposition with that verb when it has that meaning. It's not very logical, but it's the way people speak!

A prepositional phrase isn't directly related to a verb. It begins with a preposition (which is a single word) and it includes the object of the preposition as well as any words that go with the object (for example, articles or adjectives). For example, consider 'I live in the red house'. 'I' is the subject, 'live' is the verb, and 'in the red house' is a prepositional phrase -- 'in' is the preposition, 'the red house' is the object of the preposition ('the' is an article and 'red' is an adjective.

We could also say that this prepositional phrase is an adverbial because it has an adverbial function in this sentence -- it tells the listener *where* I live (describing location is one of use of adverbials). So it's an adverbial prepositional phrase.

You can see more examples of this on our Adverbials of location page: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar/adverbials-loca…

I hope that helps you make more sense of this.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello again Swan Htet Myint,

Yes, it is an adverbial prepositional phrase -- that is, a prepositional phrase used as an adverbial.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mussorie on Thu, 09/09/2021 - 09:35

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Could you please explain whether the "as" here used to introduce a contrasting is acting as a preposition or conjunction? Can conjunction be followed by a preposition? 1. He earns $80,000 a year, as against my $40,000. In this subordinate clause, what is the subject and what here "as" is referring to? 2. As is often the case with children, Amy was completely better by the time the doctor arrived. Could you please explain to me the construction of the subordinate clause? Why in this case "angry" is succeeded by "as he was"? Otherwise, it should be " as he was angry"? What is the reason why the sentence is constructed like this and explain the pattern (like adjective is placed before subordinate clause) that would be useful for me in future usage? 3. Angry as he was, he couldn't help smiling.

Hello Mussorie,

I'm afraid this kind of question goes beyond what we can provide in the comments section. The comments section is intended for short anwers to questions relating to the tasks or explanations on the page, not to provide in-depth analysis of examples from elsewhere.

 

We're all teachers here and we try to provide as much help as we can, but what you're asking for here is really almost an individual lesson and as a small team offering a free service to many thousands of users every day it's just not possible for us to provide this. There are forums on the internet which are devoted to discussing these kinds of questions, however, which you might find helpful, such as the relevant Stack Exchange forums:

https://english.stackexchange.com

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mussorie on Tue, 03/08/2021 - 08:58

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Could you please explain to me the meanings of the two sentences and which one is correct? 1.I have lots of experience in cooking and cleaning. 2.I have lots of experience of cooking and cleaning. What is the difference between experience in and experience of? When should we use them? Please provide some examples.

Hello Mussorie,

We use experience in when we are talking about experience gained consciously as part of our professional or personal development. You can have experience of working in a certain field, for example, or participating in certain activities, but you can cannot have experience in things that simply happen to you like an accident or a natural disaster.

Experience of is more general. It simply means something is a part of your lived experience. This could be something you've chosen to do, as above, or something which has happened to you.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mussorie on Sun, 25/07/2021 - 07:29

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Could you please explain to me the functionality and meaning of the following structures? 1. Verb + direct object Eg: He dreamed a story. 2. Verb + preposition + noun Eg: He dreamed of a story. What is the difference in meaning between the sentences? Explain the relationship of the two structures in general (applicable to all examples).

Hello Mussorie,

1 implies more of an action of creation, though please note this use is far less common than the way it's used in 2. If you consult the example sentences in the dictionary, you can see that 1 is unusual (or maybe not even there).

I'm afraid we're not generally able to provide extended explanations of grammar and vocabulary such as what you're requesting here.

Best wishes,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Tim on Sun, 04/07/2021 - 11:51

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Hi in the following sentences could someone guide me if the verb is transitive or intransitive. 1) The crow was flying high in the sky. 2) He was still thinking about his problem. 3) He was jumping on the floor. I think they are intransitive but I'm not sure about them either.

Hello Tim,

That's right -- these are intransitive verbs. They don't have a direct or indirect object; the phrases after them are prepositional or adverbial phrases.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk, So does it mean that a transitive verb can have both direct or indirect object?

Hello Tim,

Yes, that's correct. There are different types of transitive verbs -- some admit only one object (e.g. 'eat'), whereas others can have two (e.g. 'give'). Some grammars even speak of transitive verbs that can have three objects. You can read more about all of this at the beginning of the Transitive verb Wikipedia article.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mussorie on Thu, 24/06/2021 - 21:29

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Could you please explain the difference between the two sentences and when to use them(reason)? 1.I don't approve of your decision. 2.I don't approve your decision (incorrect), why is the structure incorrect?

Hi Mussorie,

There are two different meanings of approve here:

  • to have a positive opinion about something, e.g. 65% of the survey respondents approved of the new president. (approve of + object). This is the meaning in your sentence 1.
  • to officially accept or agree to something, e.g. The president approved the proposal. (approve + object). 

With this second meaning, somebody could say I approve your decision (affirmative), as an official statement of acceptance of that person's decision. But the negative version (I don't approve your decision) is less likely. The reason is that approve is a performative verb (also called a 'speech act verb' - a verb which performs the act that it describes when somebody says it, e.g. I promise / I apologise). If someone wants to officially say 'no' to someone's decision, they might prefer to use another performative verb (e.g. I reject your decision), rather than using approve in the negative, to convey this 'officialness'.

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rafaela1 on Thu, 24/06/2021 - 14:09

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"I don't approve of you. Our dog died of you. This shampoo smells of you." Who is "you"??...

Hello Rafaela1,

These sentences sound a bit odd for various reasons. If we don't approve of something someone did, we'd normally say 'I don't approve of your behavior' or 'of your decision' or something more specific than the whole person.

When we speak about someone dying, we don't normally use a personal pronoun that refers to a person, but rather a disease, condition or something abstract such as an emotion (e.g. 'of grief'). 

The case of 'smells of you' is similar -- it sounds a little unnatural, as we'd usually say 'smells like' a person.

It's not that the forms you ask about are impossible; they are grammatically correct, but we don't tend to use them that way.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank Kirk, Owing to you, I came to enjoy learning English. Your teaching makes learning English easier :)

Submitted by Mussorie on Sun, 20/06/2021 - 19:56

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Could you please explain to me when to use which format? Is there a trick to remember the usage? 1.adjective +preposition+verb-ing(gerund) Eg: I was afraid of fighting a war. 2.adjective +verb-ing(present participle) Eg: I am busy watching the game. And one more question to it is that in the second sentence, is the "watching" acting as an object complement to busy or acting as a present participle phrase to the subject?

Submitted by Mussorie on Sun, 20/06/2021 - 11:22

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Could you please explain the meaning and what is the difference between them? 1.I am tired of fighting the war (adjective followed by the preposition) and I am tired fighting the war (adjective followed by a gerund) if the second sentence is wrong, why is it wrong? In general, is the structure "adjective followed by gerund" wrong? Eg: I am busy writing a test if this is true in case, then why is the sentence above "gerund followed by an adjective wrong? In the second sentence, is the meaning same or is there any difference between them? if it is, then why? In case (the second sentence in the second question is wrong, why so?) 2.This is no need to read and this is of no need to read.

Hello Mussorie,

We use tired of + an object (which may be a gerund) to describe an emotional state rather than physical exhaustion. It means something like I'm bored of / I'm not interested in continuing / I've lost motivation.

 

We use adjective + -ing form (a participle here, not a gerund) to describe how we feel while we are doing something. For example:

I'm relaxed running in the morning = I feel relaxed when I am running

I'm sleepy watching this film = I feel sleepy when I am watching it (possibly because the film is boring)

I think your context is unlikely because fighting a war is such an extreme situation that being tired is not really something we'd draw attention to; it seems too weak a reference for the context.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Ok, peter Could you please address the second part of the question? That means in the above two structures there is no trick to remember, but it is based on the context and adjective, right.

Hello Mussorie,

I'm not sure what you mean by trick to remember here. The two structures express different meanings, so it's a question of what you want to say. There are a number of adjectives which follow a similar pattern:

tired of + -ing vs tired + -ing

interested in + -ing vs interested + -ing

bored of + -ing vs bored + -ing

 

Your other sentences are incorrect:

This is no need to read and this is of no need to read.

 

Need is a noun and we would use 'there' as a dummy subject:

There is no need to read this.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Could you please explain the situation in which they are used and their meaning in that situation? 1.tired of + -ing vs tired + -ing

Hello again Mussorie,

I explained tired of in my first answer:

We use tired of + an object (which may be a gerund) to describe an emotional state rather than physical exhaustion. It means something like I'm bored of / I'm not interested in continuing / I've lost motivation.

I also explained the use of adjective + -ing, which includes tired + -ing:

We use adjective + -ing form (a participle here, not a gerund) to describe how we feel while we are doing something.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Kristeine on Sat, 05/06/2021 - 17:34

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Hello sir, I'm a little confused between know of and know about. Give me some examples Thanks

Hello Kristeine,

Both know of something and know about something can mean that we have heard about it:

I know of this from a friend.

I know about this from a friend.

Know about something can also mean that we have some knowledge on the subject:

I know about this as I studied it at university.

 

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Tim on Fri, 16/04/2021 - 06:51

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I fail to understand what word is the subject in this sentence Is this the same jacket you gifted me? Since 'Is' is the helping verb here so is 'this' the subject of this sentence? Please help

Hello Tim,

The subject is this.

This is a yes/no question with the verb be, so the subject and verb are inverted. If you make the sentence a statement rather than a question then the subject becomes obvious:

This is the same jacket...

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by muratt on Wed, 10/03/2021 - 15:52

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Good evening. I am a bit confused whether if I can use a noun before the gerund 'taking' in the below example. • I advised him taking the train. • I advised him to take the train. Are the above correct?

Hello muratt,

The construction using advise with an object is: advise sb to do sth.

I advised him to take the train.

The constuction without an object is: advise doign sth.

I advised taking the train.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Aysn on Thu, 04/02/2021 - 19:20

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Dear team, I don't understand one thing in this sentence. "Officials in Japan issue Covid rules for the Tokyo games. I learnt some verbs have prepositions in their patterns such as- accuse of* doing something - Although the verb in sentence which I wrote (issue) has not verb pattern with preposition for, preposition for is used. Can you clean my confusing brain? Do I mix the grammar topics?

Hello Aysn,

Not all prepositions are used because of verb patterns. Some are tied to nouns, some to adjectives and some simply have their own meaning.

I think 'for' in this sentence is associated with the noun 'rules'. You can talk about rules for a game, rules for admittance to a programme etc. That's not to say that we always use 'for' with 'rules', of course, but it is quite a common occurrence.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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.

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

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?