Using The Wrong Preposition

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⭕ Using The Wrong Preposition ⭕


Mistakes are often made by using the wrong preposition after certain words. The following list includes the words which most often cause problems. It is very difficult to memorise where and when to use individual prepositions. A better strategy is to try to learn which prepositions are used with certain combinations of verbs, nouns and adjectives.

Confidence in, not to.

Incorrect: I have great confidence to you.

Correct: I have great confidence in you.

Note: In confidence: Let me tell you something in confidence (= as a secret)

Conform to, not with.

Incorrect: We must conform with the rules.

Correct: We must conform to the rules.

Note: comply takes with. We’ll comply with your request.

Congratulate on, not for.

Incorrect: I congratulate you for your success.

Correct: I congratulate you on your success.

Consist of, not from.

Incorrect: A year consists from twelve months.

Correct: A year consists of twelve months.

Note: Take great care never to use consist in the passive form.

Covered with, not by.

Incorrect: The mountains are covered by snow.

Correct: The mountains are covered with/in snow.

Cure of, not from.

Incorrect: The man was cured from his illness.

Correct: The man was cured of his illness.

Note: The noun cure takes for: There is no cure for that disease.

Depend on or upon, not from.

Incorrect: It depends from her.

Correct: It depends on (or upon) her.

Note: Rely on or upon: I can’t rely on (or upon) him.

Deprive of, not from.

Incorrect: Nelson Mandela was deprived from his freedom.

Correct: Nelson Mandela was deprived of his freedom.

Die of an illness, not from an illness.

Incorrect: Many people have died from malaria.

Correct: Many people have died of malaria.

Note: People die of illness, of hunger, of thirst, of or from wounds; from

overwork; b y violence, by the sword, by pestilence; in battle; for their country,

for a cause, through neglect; on the scaffold; at the stake.

Different from, not than.

Incorrect: My book is different than yours.

Correct: My book is different from yours.

Note: The word than is a preposition that usually follows an adjective when making a comparison between people, items, or conditions. Examples include more than, less thanbetter thanworse thancolder than, sweeter than—you get the idea.

However, different than can also be correctly used in a sentence such as the following:

  • College life is different than I expected.

So, what is the distinction between this example and the first one that uses different than incorrectly?  A clause instead of a noun follows the word different.

General Guideline:

If a noun follows different, use from:

  • Curiosity is different from other ways of being fulfilled…

If a clause (has a subject and verb) follows different, use than:

  • College life is different than I expected.

Good at not good in

Incorrect: He is very good in mathematics.

Correct: He is very good at mathematics.

Note: The adjective ‘bad’, ‘clever’, ‘quick’ and ‘slow’ are also followed by ‘at’.

  • I am bad at drawing.
  • He is very clever at making things.
  • She is quick at learning.
  • The boy is very slow at learning.

But the adjective ‘weak’ is usually followed by ‘in’.

Incorrect: He is weak at grammar.

Correct: He is weak in grammar.

Disappointed by, about or at, not from.

(a) by/at/about:

Incorrect: Mary was disappointed from the low mark she got in the test.

Correct: Mary was disappointed by/about/at the low mark she got in the test.

(b) with/in:

Incorrect: Jane was disappointed from her son.

Correct: Jane was disappointed with/in her son.

Note: Before a person we use with or in, before a thing we use at, about or

by and before a gerund we use at: Keith is very disappointed at not winning the prize. We use that (optional before a new clause): I was disappointed (that) I didn’t get an invitation.

Divide into parts, not in parts.

Incorrect: I divided the cake in four parts.

Correct: I divided the cake into four parts.

Note: A thing may be divided in half or in two: Paul divided the apple in half (or in two).

Prepositions with Certain Adjectives and in Idiomatic Expressions:

  • according to
  • accustomed to
  • angry about (something)
  • angry at (someone)
  • angry with (someone)
  • based on
  • capable of
  • composed of
  • content with
  • dependent on (upon)
  • different from (than)
  • disappointed in
  • due to
  • followed by
  • fond of
  • have respect for
  • in accordance with
  • independent of
  • in regard to
  • interested in
  • limited to
  • married to
  • proud of
  • related to
  • resulting from
  • similar to
  • tired of

Prepositions after Certain Verbs:

  • account for
  • agree on (something)
  • agree with (someone)
  • apologize to
  • apply for
  • approve of
  • argue with (someone)
  • ask for
  • believe in
  • belong to
  • blame (someone) for (something)
  • blame (something) on (someone)
  • borrow from
  • call on (upon)
  • care for
  • compliment (someone) on
  • come from
  • consent to
  • consist of
  • convince (someone) of (something)
  • decide on (upon)
  • depend on (upon)
  • get rid of
  • hear about
  • hear from
  • hear of
  • insist on (upon)
  • invite (someone) to
  • laugh at

Please note this list is not exhaustive and only includes some of the most common prepositions which cause problems.

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