You are here

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

Language level

Intermediate: B1

Comments

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

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

"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 :)

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?

Pages