A preposition tells a reader when and where something occurred as well as how it occurred. English prepositions perform so many functions that their nuances cause quite a bit of confusion. Here are a few examples of prepositions that illustrate 14 of the most common mistakes:
Embed this image to your site:
“At” tells where an object or subject is while “to” refers to another location. For example:
We arrived at the station.
Mary returned to the store.
“For” measures time while “since” refers to a specific period. For example,
He has been traveling for five years.
He’s been with the company since it was established.
Dates and Times
Use “in” or “for” with general measurements and “on” or “at” for specific dates. For example:
Muriel has a meeting in the morning.
The term paper is due at 8:00 AM on the 5th.
Seasons, Months and Holidays
Specific days require the preposition “on” or “for” while general measurements call for the proposition “in“. For example:
The whole family loves to go sailing in the springtime.
Are you going to the barbecue on the 4th of July?
“About“, “around” and “up to” are used to create approximate quantifications.
“In” refers to geographic regions, continents, counties and towns.
Roads and Streets
When referring to a street or road, “on” is the word of choice. For example:
There’s a bank on Birch Street.
“At” refers to specific places and addresses. For example:
The Andersons live at 144 Byrd Lane.
Phrases that require a preposition, include:
Worry about, etc.
Whenever an infinitive is used, a helping verb is required. For example:
INCORRECT: I would like visit Washington D.C.
CORRECT: I would like to visit Washington D.C
Some constructions don’t need additional prepositions. For example:
Meet up with/meet
Where are they at?/Where are they?
In some cases, a preposition is unnecessary. For example:
When making comparisons, the second preposition can be omitted if it’s the same as the first. However, it must be included if the second phrase requires a different preposition. For example:
The climate in the United States is much different than Norway.
We drove to the beach and swam in the ocean.
Ending with a Preposition
Although ending a sentence with a preposition is considered incorrect, these constructions are used everyday. As Winston Churchill said, “This is the kind of thing up with which I will not put!”
Roughly half of all preposition-related mistakes are caused by confusion between word usages. After reviewing the rules, comparing the sound and meaning of possible choices are the best methods to determine the right preposition for the job. Have any comments? You’re welcome to share them here.