Prepositions can be confusing; this infographic addresses five tricky pairs of them.
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Into vs In To
“Into” shows motion toward the inside of a place and answers the question “where?”
“The horse walked into the barn.”
“We drove into the city.”
“In” is an adverb and “to” is a preposition. Double-check by replacing “to” with “in order to.”
“A customer came in to order a pizza.”
“I need to go in to get my check.”
“I fell into the pond.” Where?
“He led the cows into the pasture.” Where?
“The kids came in to say it was snowing.”
“The kids came in in order to say it was snowing.”
“Bubba went in to buy tacos.”
“Bubba went in in order to buy tacos.”
Ask For vs Ask To
To request an object (noun), use “ask for.”
“Ask for a donut.”
“Frank will ask for a raise.”
“Go ask Mom for help.”
To request an action (verb), use “ask to.”
“Billy might ask to go to the park.” Billy doesn’t want the park, he wants to “go.”
“She will ask to ride horses for her birthday.” She doesn’t want horses, she wants to “ride.”
“Please ask the employees to put up the decorations.” He doesn’t want the decorations, he wants someone to put them up.
If you want a cheeseburger?
If you want someone to give you a cheeseburger?
“Bob will ask for a cheeseburger.”
“Bob will ask Marge to give him a cheeseburger.”
Think Of vs Think About
In many cases, these are interchangeable, but other uses for “think of” include invention or a specific choice.
“Science will think of new energy sources.”
“Think of a number between one and ten.”
Additionally, “think of” can mean that something came to mind, while “think about” can hint that something was pondered for a period of time.
“That hat made me think of you.”
You popped into my head.
“That hat made me think about you.”
I thought about how much you love hats, especially silly ones, and I remembered trying hats on with you at the mall. I remembered how ridiculous we looked, how everyone stared at us and how we laughed and laughed.
Heard Of vs Heard About
“Heard of” implies that the speaker is at least aware of something; “heard about” usually hints at more detail.
“I have heard of the band Orange Waffles.” The speaker knows they exist.
“I have heard about the band Orange Waffles.” The speaker may be hinting at details he has learned about them, such as some recent news.
“I heard about Orange Waffles,” said Greg.
“Yes,” said Sarah, “it’s a shame what happened to that goat.”
Among vs Between
“Among” is used for multiple nouns and “between” is used for two.
“There are no secrets among friends” hints at a group of friends.
“An elk stood among the trees.”
“A purple van was parked among the cars.”
“There are no secrets between friends” hints at two friends.
“Anne’s shop is between the library and a diner.”
“On the hill, a maple stands between oak trees.”
Some of these have further uses not listed for the sake of brevity. Are you familiar with any?