Verbs and prepositions

Verbs and prepositions

Do you know how to use the prepositions for, from, in, of, on, to and with after verbs? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

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

Language level

Average: 4 (60 votes)

Submitted by Plokonyo on Thu, 07/12/2023 - 11:18

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How does "in" in "in which" work in this sentence? I usually just say "which" without "in".

You are correct - but questions like those are asked in informal conversation, in which people are often careless about grammar.

Hi Plokonyo.

"Which" introduces a clause that describes the preceding noun, e.g. This is the school which Henry went to. ("Henry went to" describes "school") and This is the photo which I took yesterday ("I took yesterday" describes "photo"). The "which"-clause functions similarly to an adjective.

In your sentence, "people are often careless about grammar" does not describe "informal conversation" in that way. Instead, "informal conversation" is the location where "people are often careless ..." happens. That's why "in which" is needed, rather than "which". "In which" introduces an action that is located in the preceding noun (rather than describing the preceding noun).

It is also possible to just say "which" and put the preposition at the end of the clause, e.g. questions like those are asked in informal conversation, which people are often careless about grammar in.

I hope that helps. 

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Risa warysha on Fri, 01/12/2023 - 13:43

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Hi teachers,
I often see sentences that contain "of" located after be verb, like this sentence "Accesibility is of paramount importance for..."
What does that mean and is the function of 'of' there?
Thank you, teachers

Hello Risa Warysha,

In this example, the idea is that accessibility is extremely important. The writer could probably just as easily have said 'Accessibility is extremely important', but for whatever reason they chose to use the noun 'importance' modified by the adjective 'paramount'. But although the sentence 'Accessibility is paramount importance' is grammatically correct, it doesn't make a lot of sense.

What is meant that accessibility is 'a matter of paramount importance' or 'an issue of paramount importance'. As far as I can tell, the phrase 'to be of importance' (and other similar phrases) are reductions of the phrases with 'a matter' or 'an issue'. So in this sense, 'of' tells us what kind of issue or matter is being discussed.

Best wishes,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

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Submitted by oyo on Fri, 29/09/2023 - 15:24

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how is it smells of coconut in here correct please explain

Hello oyo,

We use 'of' after 'smell' (or sometimes 'like') to describe a smell. So if we say 'it smells of coconut' (or 'it smells like coconut'), we're saying that there is a smell that is like the smell of a coconut.

Does that answer your question? You might want to look up 'smell' in a couple of dictionaries to see other examples of how it is used as a verb.

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by lien.t on Thu, 01/06/2023 - 06:17

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Dear teachers,

Can you please advise to me where can I know what exact prepositions using which any verbs ? It seems that dictionaries also do not have enough examples ? Or there is only way that I should read a lot to find & learn ?

thank you !

Hello lien.t,

I think the best way for most people is to read and listen to English attentively. You don't need to make notes about every single combination of verbs and prepositions (or nouns and prepositions or adjectives and prepositions) that you hear -- that would be exhausting! I'd recommend making a note mainly about ones that surprise you or that you didn't expect or that are different from you native language.

After that, it would be great to look these combinations up in a dictionary. For this sort of thing, I particularly like the Longman dictionary, though any good dictionary will be a big help. See if you can find another example of the same use that you found in your reading or listening. If there's an example sentence, you could write that down too, or at least try to make a mental note of it.

I'm sure you could find lists of verbs + prepositions online, or perhaps even a book dedicated to the subject. These can be helpful, but for most people I don't think they work as well. The main reason is that there's little context for what you're learning, so it's more difficult to make sense of what you see in a list. When you're reading or listening to a text, in contrast, you have lots of information about the context.

Related to this is the fact that often there is more than one preposition that can go with a verb (or noun or adjective) and so if you just learn 'angry at', 'angry with' and 'angry about', for example, you don't know when to use each of them appropriately. Sometimes more than one option is possible, but sometimes only one is.

The only way to really learn which one works is to see or hear them in context, which is why I'd recommend reading or listening.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Dear Krik teacher,
Yes it really does make sense :) I'm very appreciated to your answer which drives force to my learning.

thank you!

Submitted by puter on Wed, 15/02/2023 - 10:11

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Hello british english team

Today we worked in the school with your programm ist was a lot of fun and the wohle class lerned new and important things. I hope you make new categories so the children lern more stuff.All in all i realy like your internet webseit

Hope you gonna get big

-peter