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

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Hello Bo Bo Kyaw,

In these examples both on to and onto are possible.

This is true of most examples. However, when on is part of the verb phrase (i.e. it is part of a multi-word verb), you should always use two words. For example:

1. Here the verb is 'put' and 'on' is not part of it, so both options are correct:

  • I put the bag on to the table.
  • I put the bag onto the table.

2. Here the verb is 'catch on' (meaning realise or begin to understand) and 'on' is part of the multi-word verb, so you cannot use 'onto':

  • She caught on to what he meant after a few moments.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Gopal Debnath on Thu, 21/07/2022 - 07:41

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1. Could explain me the difference between (In the backdrop of sth/against the backdrop)
2. Baked bricks with lime plaster were used in the dockyards of London.
Here, (dockyards of London) means the dockyards belong to London (the dockyards built in London).
If I place "In" in the place of "of" ,then above sentence will become (Baked bricks with lime plaster were used in the dockyards in London). And that means (the dockyards which were in London) , not means that (the dockyards which were built in London).
Please let me know whether my 2nd explanation is correct??

Hi Gopal Debnath,

1. They mean the same thing, but "against" is more commonly used than "in" in this phrase. For some examples, see section 1.1 from Lexico dictionary: https://www.lexico.com/definition/backdrop Almost all the examples there use "against the backdrop".

2. Yes, I think that's right. But perhaps the more important question is whether this is a meaningful difference. A "dockyard in London" is also a "dockyard of London", and vice versa - a dockyard in London was also built in London. The meanings overlap. 

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, Please help me distinguish them. sentences such as--
1. HC asks ED to take arrested Minister to AIIMS in Odisha.
2.HC ASKS ED to take arrested Minister to AIIMS of Odisha.
When to use "In" and when to use" Of" in these kind of situation.

Hello Gopal Debnath,

Since Odisha is a province or a state I think the correct preposition here would be 'in'.

We use 'in' for these kinds of locations (states, countries, cities etc). We might use 'of' to show ownership or belonging of some kind: the capital of India, the state building of Odisha etc.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mayura on Tue, 12/07/2022 - 16:22

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Hello, Sir!
I wanted to know if the preposition "at" after the adjectives is correct.
1. She is intelligent at maths.
2. She is smart at maths.
3. She is clever at maths.
4. She is good at maths. (This is what I usually see.)
Best Wishes!

Hello Mayura,

Sentence 4 is correct and natural; as you say, it's very common to say that someone is 'good at' something like a skill or subject. It's also possible to say 'clever at' with a skill or subject. Both 'good at' and 'clever at' are used in this way to talk about a person's ability to perform a specific skill.

It sounds a little odd to me to try to do the same thing with the words 'intelligent' or 'smart'. Anyone would understand 1 and 2, but I don't think you'd hear them or see them in writing very often, and I couldn't find examples of them in the dictionary (if you follow the links and study the example sentences, you'll see what I mean). I suppose because we generally think of intelligence (which is what an intelligent or smart person has) as a general feature of a person. Even if we talk about, for example, 'emotional intelligence', it refers more to a person's understanding than their skills.

As you can see if you follow the links, this dictionary is especially useful for finding what prepositions are used after different adjectives.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Avianna on Thu, 10/02/2022 - 18:20

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Hello. Could you, please, clarify which option is correct "fill in the gaps" or "fill the gaps"?

Hello Avianna,

It depends on what you mean. If you're writing instructions for a gap-fill exercise, that is, one that asks people to complete a sentence with a word or words, then 'fill in the gaps' is the form to use. Some of the tasks on our website, for example, are exercises where you have to fill in the gaps.

In other contexts where you're talking about trying to make something complete, 'fill the gap' is probably the form you need to use. 

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team