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Verb + Preposition

Complete the idea expressed by the subject and predicate

On this page:

 

Verb + Preposition Meaning

Is it a literal (word for word) or a figurative (idiomatic)?

He put out the cat.

 

Compare how out, in and on change from literal to idiomatic usage:

LITERAL MEANING LESS LITERAL MORE FIGURATIVE FIGURATIVE / IDIOM

He puts out the cat. 

places away from, takes outside

They put out a quality product. 

place away from (produce, distribute to the public)

A fireman puts out fires.

places to a state of extinction or nonexistence (extinguishes flames)

I don't want to put you out.

angers, upsets (troubles someone; forces someone out of his/her comfort/home)

She puts her earrings in a box. 

places within a space, not out

She puts the flowers in a vase.

places mostly within (places stems inside not the flowers)

She puts in four hours of time.

places within (works, contributes to a central effort)

The ship puts in for fresh provisions.

docks (brings a vessel to port and puts its anchor in the water)

He puts his keys on a table.

places above or horizontally so that it is touching a supporting surface

He puts pictures on the wall.

places vertically so that it is touching a supporting surface

She puts a coat on.

places so that it is touching a supporting 3-D figure (wears)

Are you putting me on?

jokes, deceives (puts someone on stage or on display as a fool)

literal meaning — each word has a dictionary meaning  (word for word)

less literal — a second or third meaning for a word in the dictionary (not central, additional, older, or new meaning)

more figurative — a fourth or subsequent (5th, 6th, 7th, etc.) meaning

figurative/idiom — two or more words that together express a meaning (each word does not have usual meaning)

Related pages: Verb + Prep (List) | Adjective + Prep Phrase (List) | Participle Modifier & Preposition (List) | Noun + Prep Phrase | Verb + Prep + Gerund (List)| Verbal Idioms ("phrasal verbs").

 

 

 

Specified Prepositions

Does the verb require a specific preposition?

Olivia
 

Verb + Unspecified/Specified Preposition

UNSPECIFIED PREPOSITION (VMORE THAN ONE)

In general, verbs that accept an unspecified preposition (more than one) have literal meaningseach word has its own meaning. For example, one of several prepositions can head the prepositional phrase He fell ____. (e.g., down, over, upside-down, on the ground, under a bus, over a balcony).             

HAS A LITERALMEANING

Olivia arrives at school at 8:00 a.m.  ("a precise point")

 (in class, on campus)

 

Olivia gets on the bus on Monday.  ("a supporting surface")

 (in class, on campus, up the hill, over the fence, etc.)

Olivia lives in the city. ("a bounded or enclosed area")

 (at home, under a bridge, by me, up the hill, etc.)

Olivia runs into the classroom.   ("inside an enclosed location")

(under the bridge, by the field, above the river, to the gym, etc.)

SPECIFIED PREPOSITION (ONE IN PARTICULAR)

Verbs require a specified (one particular) preposition are expressions that are either (1 ) figurative —the verb is literal but the preposition is metaphorical— or (2) idiomatic— neither verb nor preposition keeps its original meaning; they are paired together to form a particular a meaning.

HAS (1) A  FIGURATIVE MEANING OR (2) IDIOMATIC MEANING

(1) Olivia arrived at the solution after a while. (fig."a point of success")

(2) Olivia goes at math problems. (idiom "attacks, work energetically") 

(1) Olivia gets on a new diet every week. (fig. "a supporting diet platform")

(2) Olivia gets on her clothes before she eats. (idiom "dresses")

(1) Olivia lives in harmony. (fig. "a bounded concept")  (in–style, peace, jeopardy)

(2) Olivia reins in her spending. (idiom "controls her spending")

(1) Olivia ran into trouble. (fig. "inside a situation")

(2) Olivia ran into a friend. (idiom "met by chance")

 

figurative (Adj) – metaphorical, an expression, not word for word meaning based on the dictionary

verbal idiom (N) – "An idiom is an expression whose meaning cannot be systematically derived from meaning that the parts have when used independently of each other…An idiom is a lexical unit." (Huddleston 4 §6)

literal (Adj) – word for word following the dictionary meaning

metaphorical (Adj) – having a quality that describes something as being like another thing; "Life is like a box of chocolates." —Forrest Gump

(Huddleston "Constructions containing prepositional verbs" 4 §6.1.s2) (Swan "Phrasal Verbs" 599, "Prepositional Verbs" 600)

Also see Verbal Idioms (Phrasal Verbs) | Prepositional Uses.

 

 

 

VERB + PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE

A verb that is followed by phrase with an unspecified preposition: (1) accepts a variety of prepositions; (2) will allow stranding—a wording that causes the preposition to be separated from the verb— as with a "which clause" (See below.) The verb "takes" the prepositional phrase as its complement. The preposition "takes" an object as its complement.

TRANSITIVE  VERB PREPOSITION OBJECT OF PREP
IS FOLLOWED BY MORE THAN ONE PREP (WITH MEANING)

Olivia laughs

at

on

in

the school.

the playground.

class.

ALLOWS STRANDING (SEPARATION OF PREP)

The school

at which Olivia laughs is over there.

It is the the class

in which Olivia laughs.

 

VERBAL IDIOM

A verb that is followed by a specified preposition: (1) accepts one particular preposition; (2) will not allow stranding —a wording that causes the preposition to be separated from the verb. The verb is paired with the particle. The particle is not analyzed as part of the verb. The verb (not the particle) "takes" the object as its complement.                      

TRANSITIVE  VERB PARTICLE OBJECT OF VERB
IS FOLLOWED BY (COMBINED MEANING)  

Olivia laughs

(laugh at = ridicule)

 

at

at

at

the school.

my jokes.

me.

DOES NOT ALLOW STRANDING

The school

*at which Olivia laughs is over there.

which Olivia laughs at. (Prep must stay with V.)

It is the my jokes

*at which Olivia laughs is over there.

which Olivia laughs at. (Prep must stay with V.)

 

laugh at (verbal idiom) — make fun of, ridicule

particle (N) – is an intransitive preposition that is positioned before the complement of the verb. He put down his pencil. He went out the door. (Huddleston "Grammaticized Prepositions" 7 §6.2)

stranding — is a linguistic method of determining whether a verb and preposition can be separated (each functioning grammatically [V + P]) or not separated (functioning as a unit [verbal idiom]).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Verb + Preposition

Is it a preposition or a particle?

 

 

Verb + Preposition—Preposition vs. Particle

PREPOSITION

Sometimes it is hard to tell whether a verb + preposition includes a true preposition. That is, a preposition in a phrase that adds information about location, timing, method, role, and so on.  Check it:

(1) Is the preposition followed by an object? He went out the door. (transitive) Sometimes the object is included with the preposition (e.g., outside, downward, upstairs, downhill, onward).

(2) Is the preposition followed by an object that can be understood from the context? He went out. (intransitive) We understand "out the door".

INTRANSITIVE VERB TRANSITIVE PREP OBJECT OF PREP
SUBJ + PREDICATE PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE

Olivia laughs

It was at school that she laughed.

at

school.   (location)

Olivia came

It was across the street that she came.

across

 

the street.  

Olivia runs

It was into her classroom that she ran.

into

 

her classroom.  

INTRANSITIVE VERB INTRANSITIVE PREP  

Olivia went

It was out that she went.

out.  

(in a direction)

——

TRANSITIVE VERB + INTRANSITIVE PREPOSITION

In contrast, a verb + particle forms a verbal idiom. A particle does not express its original meaning as a preposition; it has lost its meaning. Together with the verb, it may take an object. Check it:

Does the sentence lose its meaning if you strand (separate) the "preposition" from the verb using "It was..." :

(1) "It was [at school] that she laughed. → expresses location [incorrect]

(2) "It was the school that she [laughed at]. → expresses ridicule [correct]

TRANSITIVE VERB INTRANSITIVE PREP OBJ OF VERBAL IDIOM
SUBJ + PREDICATE PARTICLE NOUN PHRASE

Olivia laughs

It is the school that she laughs at.

at

 

the school.

(She does not highly regard the institution.)

Olivia came

It was the answer that she came across.

across  

the answer.

Olivia ran

It was her friends that she ran into.

into  

the classroom.

INTRANSITIVE VERB INTRANSITIVE PREP  

Olivia gave

It was she who gave in.

in.  

 

——

 

¹particle (N) – is an intransitive preposition that is positioned before the complement of the verb. He put out the fire. See Is it a preposition or a particle?

a grammaticized preposition  is one in which the verb selects a particular preposition as its complement; He put down his pencil; *He put his pencil down the table.  OK: He put the spoiled milk down the drain  (Huddleston "Grammaticized Prepositions" 7 §6.2) (Huddleston "Grammaticized Prepositions" 7 §6)

laugh at (make fun of, ridicule), come across (find by chance), run into (meet by chance), give in (surrender, concede), look up (search in a reference book), take off (remove clothing), give away (offer as a gift), take up (begin a hobby or instrument)

transitive — the verb requires a complement (object) → He told a joke.

intransitive — the verb does not require a complement (object) → He laughed.

Some prepositions include the object with the preposition (e.g., outside, downward, upstairs, downhill, onward).            

 

 

 

Verbal Idioms—separable and inseparable

INSEPARABLE

Some verb + preposition expressions are a unit—which does not break apart when stranded at the end of a clause. The verbal idiom may be transitive (She laughs at school.) or intransitive (She gave in.)  Also see Verbal Idioms.

TRANSITIVE VERB PARTICLE DIRECT OBJECT

Olivia laughs

 

at

school.

Olivia came

 

across

the solution.

Olivia runs

 

into

her friends.

Olivia gave  

 

in. (intransitive)

——

SEPARABLE

Other verb + preposition expressions are breakable—the verb may be followed by a [direct object + prep] or [prep + direct object].                                                                                                                                                                

TRANSITIVE  VERB PARTICLE DIRECT OBJECT

Olivia looked

 

up

the word (DO)

the word

up. (Particle)

Olivia took

 

off

her coat (DO)

her coat.

off. (Particle)

Olivia gave

 

away

her car (DO)

her car.

away. (Particle)

Olivia took

 

up

the piano (DO)

the piano.

up. (Particle)

 

In traditional grammar,  through, in, over, below, out, and so on, (He went out.) are described as adverbs for place. Current linguistic analysis, analyzes these as prepositions that optionally take an object.  (Prepositional complements are no longer limited to an object noun) .See Prepositional Complements.

Also see Verb + Preposition–Separable vs. Inseparable.

(Swan 599-600)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Verb + Prepositional Phrases

Does the verb take one or more than one phrase?

 

 

Relating "Who does what to whom and for whom" with phrases

VERB + PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE

Some verbs require one prepositional phrase as a complement. Others optionally take more than one phrase, each of which adds information about the players in the action ("semantic roles") → who (agent) what (patient) to whom (recipient) for whom (beneficiary) where (path, source, goal and location).

VERB + PP

*Olivia appealed… (agent- who?)

Olivia appealed to the committee. (recipient – to whom?)

Olivia appealed for support. (patient – what?)

The committee agrees. (agent)

The committee agrees with Olivia. (recipient)

The committee agrees on the matter. (patient)

*Olivia applied(agent)

Olivia applied to Google. (recipient)

Olivia applied for a job. (patient)

VERB + PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES

The following verbs take a second prepositional phrase. Either prepositional phrase could be the sole (only) complement. The ordering of the phrases is usually fixed (cannot be changed). The prepositions are required (cannot be omitted) as they relate the content of the phrase to the verb.                          

VERB + PP + PP

Olivia appealed to the committee for support.

*Olivia appealed for support to the committee. (order not used)

*Olivia appealed the committee support. (preps needed)

The committee agrees with Olivia about/on the matter.

*The committee agrees on the matter with Olivia. (order not used)

*The committee agrees Olivia the matter. (preps needed)

Olivia applied to Google for a job.

*Olivia applied for a job to Google. (order not used)

*Olivia applied Google a job. (preps needed)

*incomplete sentence

Other verbs with a second prepositional phrase option: argue with…about, arrange with…for, boast to…about, complain to…about look to…for, pay for…with.

appeal (V) — an earnest request for aid, support, sympathy, mercy; entreaty; petition; plea.

 

 

Semantic Roles:   Who does what to whom and for whom?

 

 

(Aarts 4.1.3.1-2)  (Huddleston 4 §1.2)

 

References

  • Aarts, Bas. Oxford Modern English Grammar. Oxford UP, 2011.
  • Huddleston, Rodney D., and Geoffrey K. Pullum. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge UP, 2002.
  • Swan, Michael. Practical English Usage. 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 2005.

 

 

 

 

► Expand List — Verb + Prep (Listed by Verb) ▼ Hide List

Verb + Preposition

Alphabetic Verb Listing

 

 

Verbs Followed by Specified Prepositions (Alphabetic Listing)

A

abide by He will abide by the court's decision . ("act or do as promised")

account for It's hard to account for his actions. (idiom "explain")

accuse (NP) ofThey accused him of cheating.

accustom toHe will accustom himself to the cold weather.

acquaint (NP) with You can acquaint yourself with your new teammates.

addicted toHe was addicted to video games.

address (NP) toHe addressed a letter to her. (Ind. Obj.)

agree with We agree with you.

allow for The rules allow for exceptional situations . (idiom "give what is needed")

answer to (NP) for You will have to answer to me if you try to do that. / He had to answer to the authorities for his actions. ("respond to a person, explain, justify")

argue for They argued for changes in the medical system. (present reasons for or against)

argue with…about He argues with his co-workers about small things.

apologize for Jason apologized for the error.

apply for She applied for a job.

approve ofThey approve of your choice of colors.

arrange for She arranged for a meeting. (made preparations)

arrive in / atHe arrived in Berlin. (city destination) / She arrived at school on time. / She arrived in the morning. He arrived at 9 PM.

ask about He asked about our new project.

ask for She asked for some help. ("request")

assure (NP) ofHe was assured of a job.

attach (NP) toHe attached a note to the box. / He was attached to the group. (Ind. Obj.)

 

B

bank on You can bank on him to charge you a reasonable amount. ("depend on")

bar from They barred them from entering. ("blocked")

be at Please be at my house at 9:00 a.m. ("arrive")

beg for They begged for mercy. (idiom "ask to give")

believe inHe believes in democracy.  ("think that something is effective or right") He believes in God.  (be sure that someone exists)

blame for They blamed her for the accident.

bless (NP) with God blessed us with six children.

bore (NP) with He bored us with a long story.

break into Robbers broke into the store. / He wanted to break into show business . (get a start in)

bring about He will bring about changes. ("cause to happen")

C

call for He will call for you at noon. ("pick you up") / This calls for a celebration. (demands or deserves)

care about Do you care about its success?

complain about He never complains about his health.

care about He really cares about what will happen?  ("consider important" "worry about")

care for She doesn't care for cheese. ("like") / She cares for him. ("has feelings")

count for His experience counts for nothing? (idiom "have worth")

confide inShe confides in me. ("entrusts with secrets")

count onYou can count on me. (depend)

come across He came across as excessively confident. (idiom "gave the impression of being") /They came across a new idea. ("encounter, find by chance")

come betweenHe came between me and my ex-girlfriend. (causes a separation or estrangement)

come byHow did you come by that antique chair? (obtain)

come intoHe came into a lot of money when his father died. (inherit)

come underThis department comes under the Science Division. (is categorized as, is under the responsibility of)

come offThe meeting came off well. (resulted)

complain ofHe complains of headaches.

compose ofThe meat is composed of beef and lamb.

consist ofThe soup consists of broth, rice and chicken.

convince ofThey convinced of the need for change.

confine (NP) toThey confined him to [his room / sitting in his room].

connect toA candidate must connect to his audiences.  (IO)

consent toHe consented to [a flu shot / getting a flu shot].

contribute toThey contributed to the school fund. (IO)

charge (NP) withThey charged him with manslaughter.

compare (NP) with / to You can compare this apple with that apple.

contaminate (NP) withHe contaminated the food with bacteria.

compete with One team competes with another.

concern (NP) with He concerns himself with every detail of the business.

count onYou can count on me. (idiom "depend")

cover (NP) with We covered the food with a cloth.

coordinate (NP) with The mayor coordinated operations with the police department.

 

D

deal inHe deals in drugs and weapons. ("does business")

deal with This new bill deals with human rights. ("concerns", "handles" "manages")

decide onHe will decide on an ice cream flavor.

dedicate toHe dedicated the song to his sweetheart.

depend onYou can depend on me. (rely)

deprive (NP) ofThe authorities deprived him of his rights.

devote toHe is devoted his children.

die from He died from cancer.

differ from His ideas differ from hers.

dispense with Let's dispense with formality. (go without)

dispose of He disposed of his unwanted furniture at a thrift store.

distinguish from He wants to distinguish himself from other competitors.

divorce from He will divorce his interests from hers. / They are divorced from each other..

dream about He dreams about being a rock star.

dream ofHe dreams of better days ahead.

draw (NP) intoThe crooks drew him into their scam. (idiom "induced" "cleverly lead in")

draw onHis story draws on personal experience.  (uses as a source)

E

entitle (NP) toHe was entitled to half the estate.

equip (NP) with Our coach equipped our team with new uniforms, balls and nets.

escape from The man escaped from his captors.

excel at / inShe excels at / in programming.

excuse (NP) for Jason excused himself for the error.

explain (NP) toThe teacher explained the answer to me.

expose toThe employee exposed the problem to the public.

 

  F

faithful toA couple should remain faithful to each other.

fall forHe fell for the telephone scam. ("deceived by")

feed (NP) onHe feeds his dogs on kibble and meat. ("gives a daily diet of")

feel forI feel for you. ("sympathize")

fight for He fights for his principles.

fill (NP) with He filled the bottle with fresh water.

forget about He forgot about his morning appointment.

forgive (NP) for He forgave me for my lie.

frown at  — The angry boy frowned at me.

furnish (NP) with They furnished the room with tables and chairs. / They will furnish you with what you need. ("supply")

fuss about She fussed about what to wear.

 

G

get about How does he get about town? (idiom "travel" or "move")

get around How do you get around the rules? ("circumvent" "outwit")

get at What is he getting at? ("imply")

get over He got over his loss slowly ("recover")

get throughWe got through the tunnel in time. (literal meaning) / He hopes to get through the difficult day. (idiom "bear, endure, survive")

get toWe can get to the beach by that road. / We want to get to the beach by noon. (to come to or arrive at in some course of progress, action)

glance overWe glanced over the fence. (literal meaning) / We glanced over the topic. (idiom "look briefly")

go off Our electricity went of. ("stopped working") /  A bomb went off in the center of the city. ("exploded")

go on about He goes on about his marvelous dog. (talks excessively)

go from…to He went from being rich to being poor.

grow on His character grows on you.  (increases in effect or likability)

 

H

hear from We haven't heard from them for a while. (idiom "receive news")

help (NP) withHe helped us with our project.

hide from Bobby hid from his sister.

hit on He was hitting on the woman next to him in the bar.  (flirt) / They his on a new method of developing the vaccine faster. (discover unexpectedly)

hold (NP) againstHold this cold pack against the swelling. (literal meaning) / Please don't hold this mistake against me.  (idiom "think badly of someone because of some fault or occurrence.")

hold with He doesn't hold with all this talk about gun control. (support, approve of)

 

hope for We hope for rain.

 

I

improve onCan you improve on his work?

introduce (NP) toHe introduced his brother to his friends.

insist onHe insists on changes.

interest (NP) inHe interested us in an investment in his business.

involve inHe involves himself in other people's business.

 

J

jump onHe jumped on the trampoline. (literal) / He jumped on the bandwagon. (idiom "joined")

 

K

keep from He chews gum to keep from smoking. (idiom "avoid")

keep onThey keep on calling me. (idiom "continue")

keep to You must keep to the topic. ("stick with, stay the course")

 

L

laugh at  — She laughs at my jokes.

lay intoHis boss lay into him for making the mistake. (criticize verbally)

lean onYou can lean on me. (depend)

learn from We learn from our mistakes.

lecture about Professor Lee lectures about the importance of conservation.

let (NP) intoThe neighbors let him into their house.

let (NP) offThe bus driver let the passenger off the bus. (literal meaning) / The judge let the driver off with only a $200 fine. (idiom "excuse form legal responsibility")

let outThe lady let the cat out the door. (literal meaning) / The tailor let out the side seam. (idiom "enlarge a garment") / The wolf let out a howl. (idiom "vocalized")

limit toThey limit customers to [one sale item / buying one sale item].

live for He lives for adventure. ( "anticipate with eagerness")

locate inThey will locate the building in the city center.

look after  — He looks after his elderly father. "takes care of"

look at  — She looked at them.

look onHe looks on her as a friend. (idiom "regards")

 

M

make for  It is time to make for home. ("head") / The makes for an awkward situation. (cause a situation)

make from The chair is made from wood.

make ofThe cloth is made of cotton and rayon.

married toShe was married to him two years ago. (Ind. Obj.)

mess with Don't mess with me. ("bother" "cause trouble for")

 

N

nibble onShe nibbled on a strawberry. ("ate little bits at a time")

 

O

obsess with He is obsessed with video games.

opposed toHe is opposed to [any changes | making any changes].

orbit aroundEarth orbits around the sun.

 

P

pause at  — He paused at the end of the sentence.

part withHe hates to part with his hard earned money. (lose, have taken away)

participate inThey are participating in the conference.

pay for He paid for his purchase with a card.

persuade (NP) ofThey persuaded the judge of the prisoner's innocence.

pick onShe picks on her younger brother. (criticize, tease, bother)

please (NP) with She pleased the child with candy. / He was pleased with himself.

polite toChildren must be polite to their teachers.

pore overThe investigator pored over the clues to find an answer. ("look at carefully for an extended time")

prepare for We must prepare for the storm.

prevent from His illness prevents him from working.

provide for He provides for his family. (idiom "gives what is needed")

provide (NP) with They will provide you with whatever you need.

prohibit from The state prohibits him from driving.

protect (NP) from The parents will protect her from harm.

 

Q

qualify for His scores qualify him for entry into the university.

 

R

read (NP) intoPeople may read evil into your statement.

recommend (NP) forThey recommended him for the job.

refrain from Please refrain from smoking here. (not do or say)

rejoice at  — They rejoiced at the good news.

rely onYou can rely on me. (depend)

remember for We remember him for his humor.

rescue from Superman rescued the woman from the bomb.

respond toHow did he respond to the charges?

result inHis behavior results in problems. ("ends in" or "causes")

run forMrs. Clinton ran for President twice. "participate as a candidate in an election"

run intoWe ran into some problems while building the bridge. (meet unexpectedly)

rob (NP) ofThe thieves robbed him of his wallet.

 

S

satisfy with / satisfy (NP) with He is satisfied with his pay. / You can satisfy him with a raise in pay.

see aboutHe will see about getting a new passport. (inquire)

see (NP) throughYou can see through the glass. (literal) / His family saw him through the crisis. (idiom "helped")

see toHe will see to your needs. (arrange, supply, get)

separate from She separated from her husband. ("moved into separate homes")

shoot at He shot at a wolf ("in that direction")

shout at  — She shouted at me.

smile at  — The happy boy smiled at me.

spend (NP) onHe spent his money on a car.

stand by Please stand by while we fix the problem. ("wait") / The company stands by its products. ("supports, defends the quality")

stand for I won't stand for this nonsense. (idiom "tolerate", "put up with") / VIP stands for 'very important person.

stand up for He stood up for us. (idiom "supported us")

stand up to You must stand up to forces of evil. ("withstand, not bend")

stare at  — She stared at the price tag.

stem from  — All these problems stem from one poor decision. ("originate, be caused by")

stick to  — Stick to your ideals. Stick to the rules. (stay to something; continue with something; follow exactly)

stick with  — Stick with your friends.  (stay close; continue to do something; persevere")

stop at  — He stopped at the corner. / He stopped at the end. / He will stop at nothing. (idiom)

stop from He couldn't stop from smoking.

subject (NP) toThe media subjected him to an invasion of his privacy.

substitute for She substitutes olive oil for butter.

succeed inHe is succeeding in his business goals.

suffer from He suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

supply (NP) with The Red Cross supplied us with food and shelter.

suspect (NP) ofThe police suspect him of murder.

swarm with The garden is swarming with bees.

 

T

take after He takes after his father. ("act or look like")

talk about She talks about her family a lot.

talk at  — He talked at me. (idiom "didn't let me talk")

talk (NP) intoHe talked her into selling her car. ("convince")

talk ofThere is talk of closing the factory.

take care ofHe takes care of his family.

take inHe took in a refugee family. ("care for, host, adopt") / She took in the seams of the dress. ("sew and make smaller") / The murder scene was a lot for him to take in. ("make sense of, understand emotionally")

tamper with Someone tampered with the contents of the medicine bottles. ("make unapproved changes , make unsafe by changing") / Someone tampered with the lock on the door. ("alter, damage")

tell onShe told on her friends. ("reveal wrong-doing") / The stress was telling on his health. ("produce a severe effect")

testify toI can testify to what you have just said. ("support with fact" "give evidence")

thank for He thanked you for your help.

think about Let me think about this for a while. (consider)

think ofI can't think of it at the moment. (recall) / What do you think of him? (regard)

tire ofThey are tiring of his empty promises.

treat (NP) toThey treated the children to ice cream. [IO]

trust (NP) with I trust you with my life.  ("have confidence in"

try for He tried for a promotion. (idiom "applied", "interview" or "auditioned")

 

U

(be) used toHe was used to [home / living at home]. (Used vs. Be used to.)

V

vote for He voted for Obama for President.

 

W

wade through He waded through his tax preparation. ("persevered")

wage war onThe northern people waged war on the southern people.

warn (NP) of / aboutThe police warned us about him.

wait for Please wait for me. 

wait onThe man in the restaurant who waited on us was very friendly. ("served")

wave at  — He waved at us.

wink at  — He winked at her and she smiled back.

worry about He worries about upsetting his father.

 

Z

zero in on We need to zero in on the problem. ("find and locate")

 

 

INF – Subordinator to a nonfinite clause "to".  Infinitive "to" (He wanted to leave. He left early to get there on time.)

PP – Indirect object expressed with "to".  recipient—the person (or entity) that is the receiver or endpoint of the action. (He sang her a song. He sang a song to her. )

PP – Comparative expressed with "to". Would Prefer X to Y ( prefer this one to that one.)  

 

 

 

 

 

► Expand List — Verb + Prep (Listed by Preposition) ▼ Hide List

Verb + Specified Preposition(s)

List

 

 

ABOUT

The meanings of about include: concerning, in regards to, connected to, somewhere near by, close to, or on all sides.

argue about Please don't argue about that.

get about How does he get about town? (idiom "travel" or "move")

bring about He will bring about changes. ("cause to happen")

go on about He goes on about his problems. ("talks excessively)

care about He really cares about what will happen?  ("consider important" "worry about")

grumble about He was grumbling about his job. ("murmur discontent")

care about He really cares about what will happen?  ("consider important" "worry about")

lecture about Professor Lee lectures about the importance of conservation.

complain about He never complains about his health.

see aboutHe will see about getting a new passport. (inquire)

dream about He dreams about being a rock star.

talk about She talks about her family a lot.

forget about He forgot about his morning appointment.

think about Let me think about this for a while. (consider)

fuss about She fussed about what to wear.

worry about He worries about upsetting his father.

AT

The meanings of at include: location, timing, movement in a direction, somewhere near by, close to, or on all sides.

arrive at She has arrived at her destination.

shoot at He shot at a wolf ("in that direction")

be at Please be at my house at 9:00 a.m. ("arrive")

shout at  — She shouted at me.

excel at  — She excels at tennis. (in)

smile at  — The happy boy smiled at me.

frown at  — The angry boy frowned at me.

stare at  — She stared at the price tag.

get at What is he getting at? ("implying")

stop at  — He stopped at the corner. / He stopped at the end. / He will stop at nothing. (idiom)

laugh at  — She laughs at my jokes.

talk at  — He talked at me. (idiom "didn't let me talk")

look at  — She looked at them.

wave at  — He waved at us.

pause at  — He paused at the end of the sentence.

wink at  — He winked at her and she smiled back.

rejoice at  — They rejoiced at the good news.

 
FOR

The meanings of for include: concerning, in regards to, connected to, somewhere near by, close to, or on all sides.

account for It's hard to account for his actions. (idiom "explain")

live for He lives for adventure. ( "anticipate with eagerness")

allow for The rules don't allow for exceptional situations . (idiom "give what is needed")

look for He was looking for a solution. "search"

apologize for Jason apologized for the error.

make for  It is time to make for home. ("head") / The makes for an awkward situation. (cause a situation)

apply for She applied for a job.

pay for He paid for his purchase with a card.

arrange for She arranged for a meeting. (made preparations)

prepare for We must prepare for the storm.

argue for They argued for changes in the medical system. (present reasons for or against)

provide for He provides for his family. (idiom "gives what is needed")

ask for She asked for some help. ("request")

qualify for His scores qualify him for entry into the university.

beg for They begged for mercy. (idiom "ask to give")

recommend(NP) forThey recommended him for the job.

blame for They blamed her for the accident.

remember for We remember him for his humor.

call for He will call for you at noon. ("pick you up") / This calls for a celebration. (demands or deserves)

run forMrs. Clinton ran for President twice. "participate as a candidate in an election"

care for She doesn't care for cheese. ("like") / She cares for him. ("has feelings")

stand for I won't stand for this nonsense. (idiom "tolerate", "put up with")

count for His experience counts for nothing? (idiom "have worth")

stand up for He stood up for us. (idiom "supported us")

exchange for She exchanged her card for a new one.

substitute for She substitutes olive oil for butter.

excuse for Jason apologized for the error.

thank for He thanked you for your help.

feel forI feel for you. ("sympathize")

try for He tried for a promotion. (idiom "applied", "interview" or "auditioned")

fight for He fights for his principles.

vote for He voted for Obama for President.

forgive for He forgave me for my lie.

wait for Please wait for me.  / Please wait up for me. (informal)

hope for We hope for rain.

yearn for He yearns for a quiet weekend. ("thinks about longingly, desires")

FROM

The meanings of from include: source location, contrast, expressing range (with to) and cause.

bar from They barred them from entering. ("blocked")

make from The chair is made from wood.

die from He died from cancer.

prevent from His illness prevents him from working.

differ from His ideas differ from hers.

prohibit from The state prohibits him from driving.

distinguish from He wants to distinguish himself from other competitors.

protect (NP) from The parents will protect her from harm.

divorce from He will divorce his interests from hers. / They are divorced from each other..

refrain from Please refrain from smoking here. (not do or say)

escape from The man escaped from his captors.

rescue from Superman rescued the woman from the bomb.

go from He went from being rich to being poor.

save from The firemen saved a man from a burning building.

hear from We haven't heard from them for a while. (idiom "receive news")

separate from She separated from her husband. ("moved into separate homes")

hide from Bobby hid from his sister.

stem from  — All these problems stem from one poor decision. ("originate, be caused by")

keep from He chews gum to keep from smoking. (idiom "avoid")

stop from He couldn't stop from smoking.

learn from We learn from our mistakes.

suffer from He suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

IN / INTO

The approximate meanings of in are: location, time period, expected time required,

arrive inHe arrived in Berlin. (city destination)

let (NP) into — The neighbors let him into their house.

believe inHe believes in democracy.  ("think that something is effective or right") He believes in God.  (be sure that someone exists)

locate inThey will locate the building in the city center.

come intoHe came into a lot of money when his father died. (inherit)

participate inThey are participating in the conference.

confide inShe confides in me. ("entrusts with secrets")

read (NP) intoPeople may read evil into your statement.

deal inHe deals in drugs and weapons. ("does business")

result inHis behavior results in problems. ("ends in" or "causes")

draw (NP) intoThe crooks drew him into their scam. (idiom "induced" "cleverly lead in")

run intoWe ran into some problems while building the bridge. (meet unexpectedly)

excel inShe excels in programming. (at)

succeed inHe is succeeding in his business goals.

interest (NP) inHe interested us in an investment in his business.

take inHe took in a refugee family. ("care for, host, adopt") / She took in the seams of the dress. ("sew and make smaller") / The murder scene was a lot for him to take in. ("make sense of, understand emotionally")

involve inHe involves himself in other people's business.

talk (NP) intoHe talked her into selling her car. ("convince")

lay intoHis boss lay into him for making the mistake. (criticize verbally)

zero in on We need to zero in on the problem. ("find and locate")

 

ON / ONTO

The approximate meanings of on are: location, time, actions or states,

bank on You can bank on him to charge you a reasonable amount. ("depend on")

keep onThey keep on calling me. (idiom "continue")

count onYou can count on me. (idiom "depend")

lean onYou can lean on me. (depend)

decide onHe will decide on an ice cream flavor.

look onHe looks on her as a friend. (idiom "regards")

depend onYou can depend on me. (rely)

rely onYou can rely on me. (depend)

draw onHis story draws on personal experience.  (uses as a source)

pick onShe picks on her younger brother. (criticize, tease, bother)

feed (NP) onHe feeds his dogs on kibble and meat. ("gives a daily diet of")

spend (NP) onHe spent his money on a car.

go on He goes on and on about his marvelous dog. ("talks endlessly")

tell onShe told on her friends. ("reveal wrong-doing") / The stress was telling on his health. ("produce a severe effect")

hit on He was hitting on the woman next to him in the bar.  (flirt) / They hit on a new method of developing the vaccine. (discover unexpectedly)

wage war onThe northern people waged war on the southern people.

improve onCan you improve on his work?

wait onThe man in the restaurant who waited on us was very friendly. ("served")

insist onHe insists on changes.

zero in onHe walked into the kitchen and zeroed in on the cheese snacks. (find the exact location)

OF

The meanings of of include: source, origin, belonging, part of a set, and more.                        

accuse (NP) ofThey accused him of cheating.

make ofThe cloth is made of cotton and rayon.

approve ofThey approve of your choice of colors.

persuade (NP) ofThey persuaded the judge of the prisoner's innocence.

assure (NP) ofHe was assured of a job.

rob (NP) ofThe thieves robbed him of his wallet.

complain ofHe complains of headaches.

suspect (NP) ofThe police suspect him of murder.

compose ofThe meat is composed of beef and lamb.

take care ofHe takes care of his family.

consist ofThe soup consists of broth, rice and chicken.

talk ofThere is talk of closing the factory.

convince ofThey convinced of the need for change.

think ofI can't think of it at the moment. (recall) / What do you think of him? (regard)

deprive (NP) ofThe authorities deprived him of his rights.

tire ofThey are tiring of his empty promises.

dispose of He disposed of his unwanted furniture at a thrift store.

warn (NP) of / aboutThe police warned us about him.

dream ofHe dreams of better days ahead.

 

TO

The meanings for to include: directional movement (PP), recipient (PP–indirect object) and others.  See note at the end of this section.

accustom toHe will accustom himself to [the cold weather/ being in cold weather].

introduce (NP) toHe introduced his brother to his friends.

addicted toHe was addicted to [video games/playing video games.]

limit toThey limit customers to [one sale item / buying one sale item].

address (NP) toHe addressed a letter to her. [IO]

keep to You must keep to the topic. ("stick with, stay the course")

answer to (NP) for You will have to answer to me if you try to do that. / He had to answer to the authorities for his actions. ("respond, explain, justify")

married toShe was married to him two years ago.  [IO]

attach (NP) toHe attached a note to the box. / He was attached to the group.   [IO]

opposed toHe is opposed to [any changes / making any changes].

commit toHe will commit to a fair deal.

polite toChildren must be polite to their teachers.

confine (NP) toThey confined him to [his room / sitting in his room].

refer to / refer (NP) toWe referred to her book. / We referred her to your book. [IO]

connect toA candidate must connect to his voters.  [IO]

relate toHe is related to our family.

contribute toThey contributed to the school fund.  [IO]

relate toI can relate to [your problems / having problems]. "understand"

dedicate toHe dedicated the song to his sweetheart.  [IO]

relevant toThis topic is relevant to our discussion.

devote toHe is devoted his children.  [IO]

respond toHow did he respond to [the charges / hearing the charges]?

entitle (NP) toHe was entitled to [half the estate / receiving half the estate].

see toHe will see to your needs. (idiom–arrange, supply, get)

explain (NP) toThe teacher explained the answer to me.

stick to  — Stick to your ideals. ("follow, do not waiver")

expose toThe employee exposed the problem to the public.

subject (NP) toThe media subjected him to an invasion of his privacy.

faithful toA couple should remain faithful to each other.

testify toI can testify to what you have just said. ("support with fact" "give evidence")

grateful toHe was grateful to his mentor.

treat (NP) toThey treated the children to ice cream.

incite (NP) toThe group incited the students to riot.

used to

He used to live here. (See Use to.)

WITH

The meanings of with include: accompanying, coordination, having certain properties (characteristics).

acquaint (NP) with You can acquaint yourself with your new teammates.

equip (NP) with Our coach equipped our team with new uniforms, balls and nets.

agree with We agree with you.

fill (NP) with He filled the bottle with fresh water.

argue with…about He argues with his co-workers about small things.

furnish (NP) with They furnished the room with tables and chairs. / They will furnish you with what you need. ("supply")

bless (NP) with God blessed us with six children.

help (NP) withHe helped us with our project.

bore (NP) with He bored us with a long story.

mess with Don't mess with me. ("bother" "cause trouble for")

charge (NP) withThey charged him with manslaughter.

obsess with He is obsessed with video games.

compare (NP) with / to You can compare this apple with that apple.

please (NP) with She pleased the child with candy. / He was pleased with himself.

contaminate (NP) withHe contaminated the food with bacteria.

provide (NP) with They will provide you with whatever you need.

compete with One team competes with another.

satisfy with / satisfy (NP) with He is satisfied with his pay. / You can satisfy him with a raise in pay.

concern (NP) with He concerns himself with every detail of the business.

stick with  — Stick with your friends.  ("stay close, support")

cover (NP) with We covered the food with a cloth.

supply (NP) with The Red Cross supplied us with food and shelter.

coordinate (NP) with The mayor coordinated operations with the police department.

swarm with The garden is swarming with bees.

deal with This new bill deals with human rights. ("concerns", "handles" "manages")

tamper with Someone tampered with the contents of the medicine bottles. ("make unapproved changes , make unsafe by changing") / Someone tampered with the lock on the door. ("alter, damage")

dispense with Let's dispense with formality. ("forgo, go without")

trust (NP) with I trust you with my life.  ("have confidence in"

OTHERS

Compare the literal meaning (word for word) to the idiom meaning in the following words.

abide by He will abide by the court's decision . ("act or do as promised")

let (NP) offThe judge let the driver off with only a $200 fine. (idiom "excuse form legal responsibility")

come acrossHe came across as excessively confident. (idiom "gave the impression of being"); They came across a new idea. ("encounter, find by chance")

hold with He doesn't hold with all this talk about gun control. (support, approve of)

hold (NP) againstPlease don't hold this mistake against me.  (idiom "think badly of someone because of some fault or occurrence.")

look afterHe looks after his elderly father.  "takes care of"

come betweenHe came between me and my ex-girlfriend. (causes a separation or estrangement)

part withHe hates to part with his hard earned money. (lose, have taken away)

come byHow did you come by that antique chair? (obtain)

pore overThe investigator pored over the clues to find an answer. ("look at carefully for an extended time")

come underThis department comes under the Science Division. (is under the responsibility or classification of )

see (NP) throughYou can see through the glass. (literal) / His family saw him through the crisis. (idiom "helped")

get around How do you get around the rules? ("circumvent" "outwit")

stand by Please stand by while we fix the problem. ("wait") / The company stands by its products. ("supports, defends the quality")

get over He got over his loss slowly ("recover")

stand up to You must stand up to forces of evil. ("withstand, not bend")

glance overWe glanced over the fence. (literal meaning) / We glanced over the topic. (idiom "look briefly")

take after He takes after his father. ("act or look like")

get throughWe got through the tunnel in time. (literal meaning) / He hopes to get through the difficult day. (idiom "bear, endure, survive")

wade through He waded through his tax preparation. ("persevere")

go off Our electricity went of. ("stopped working") /  A bomb went off in the center of the city. ("exploded")

 
 

PP –directional movement; goal "to".

PP – Indirect object [IO] expressed with "to".  recipient—the person (or entity) that is the receiver or endpoint of the action. (He sang her a song. He sang a song to her. )

PP – Comparative expressed with "to". Would Prefer X to Y ( prefer this one to that one.)  

Spec. PP – Verb + Specified Prep – (idiom) the verb selects "to" as its complement. (I look forward to [the arrangments / making the arrangments].) 

Particle – has no meaning but combines with the verb for form a single meaning. (I will see to [the arrangements / making the arrangments].) 

(INF – Subordinator to a nonfinite clause "to".  Infinitive "to" [He wanted to leave. He left early to get there on time.])

 

 

 

 

Practice

Olivia

Olivia
 

Read the Context

Olivia is a dynamic person with leadership qualities. Olivia is the oldest of six children, all of whom count ___ her for guidance.   And there is so much they can learn ___ her. It is hard to account ___ her energy, which seems endless. Olivia participates ___ so many activities. 

Olivia has run ___ President of her high school class three times and has won. Her classmates support her because she cares ___ them. She fights ___ what is right. Olivia believes ___ equality for everyone. For example, the girls in her school complained ___ the lack of funds for their sports activities.  She succeeded ___ convincing the faculty to form a women's basketball team on campus.  Olivia also arrange ___ a meeting with the school board to petition them to add Dance as an official physical education class.

Besides that, Olivia argued ___ the school administrators ___ better Internet access for a number of students who had no Internet connection at home. She asked ___ 24/7 access to WiFi on campus.

The school district could not afford to pay ___ a nighttime librarian, but they could help in another way. Olivia talked the school administrators ___ leaving both the WiFi and the lights on outside of the library at night. This compromise provided students ___ Internet access and a well-lighted place to study on the library steps. The simple solution cost nothing and resulted ___ better Internet access for all the students.

It is hard to explain her success ___ anyone. She is devoted ___ her causes. She wades ___ problems and and finds cost-effective solutions.

Olivia's teachers will recommend her ___ any university that she wants to attend. She is assured ___ a place in the college or university of her choice. A  scholarship will furnish her ___ most of her needs. She will deal ___ unexpected costs by working and saving up money over the summer. Olivia's Her high school classmates and teachers know that she will go ___ and have a bright future.

"College Student" by CollegeDegrees360 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

 

24/7 access (expression) — that something be available all day, every day

afford (V) — to meet the cost or expense of something

cause (N) — an effort, reason for action

compromise (N, V) — a settlement that reasonably satisfies both sides of the argument

cost-effective (Adj) — having the quality of making good use of money, money-saving

dynamic (Adj) — having energy, vigorous, active

faculty (N) — teachers in a particular school (a collective noun)

funds (N) — a supply of money set aside or available for spending

insufficient (Adj) — not having something or not having enough

librarian (N) — person who manages the school's library and study areas, which may include Internet access and computers

official (Adj) — approved by authorities

petition (V) — to formally request something by presenting a document with the names of several people who also support or are in favor of the request.

 

 

 

Determine the preposition that goes with the verb.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check" button or the "Check 1-25" button at the bottom.

 

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