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Common Mistakes In The Use of Prepositions in English

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One of the biggest mistakes that English learners make is using the wrong preposition in a sentence. For example, using “of” instead of “on” or “at” instead of “in.” These mistakes can change the meaning of a sentence and make it difficult for others to understand what you are trying to say. We will explore some of the most common preposition mistakes and provide examples of how to use them correctly.

Common Mistakes In The Use of Prepositions

Correct:

  • George invests her money in the stock market.

Incorrect:

  • George invests her money on the stock market.

 

Correct: 

  • My birthday is in September.

Incorrect:

  • My birthday is on September.

 

Correct: 

  • Mary is married to a doctor.

Incorrect:

  • Mary is married with a doctor.

Common Mistakes with Prepositions 

Mistakes In The Use of Prepositions

Correct:

  • It has been snowing since Saturday.

Incorrect:

  • It has been snowing from Saturday.

 

Correct:

  • She was afraid of dogs.

Incorrect:

  • She was afraid from dogs.

 

Correct:

  • His car is superior to mine.

Incorrect:

  • His car is superior than mine.

 

Correct:

  • John failed in chemistry last week.

Incorrect:

  • John failed from chemistry last week.

 

Correct:

  • You can insure against theft.

Incorrect:

  • You can insure for theft.

 

Correct:

  • We went on a trip last month.

Incorrect:

  • We went in a trip last month.

 

Correct:

  • His name was inscribed in the book.

Incorrect:

  • His name was inscribed by the book.

 

Correct:

  • John was just in time to catch the taxi.

Incorrect:

  • John was just on time to catch the taxi.

 

Correct:

  • George’s methods are different from yours.

Incorrect:

  • George’s methods are different than yours.

 

Correct:

  • There are more than 200 clients there.

Incorrect:

  • There are over 200 clients there.

 

Correct:

  • Our company is ashamed of him.

Incorrect:

  • Our company is ashamed for him.

 

Correct:

  • Mary feels superior to everybody else.

Incorrect:

  • Mary feels superior than everybody else.

 

Correct:

  • The customer was on time for the meeting.

Incorrect:

  • The customer was in time for the meeting.

 

Correct:

  • Look out of the window.

Incorrect:

  • Look out window.

 

Correct:

  • Meet the board members at the office.
Related  100 Common Prepositions: A Comprehensive List in English

Incorrect:

  • Meet the board members in the office.

 

Correct:

  • Our MD is aiming at leaving South America.

Incorrect:

 

Correct:

  • The player died of leukaemia.

Incorrect:

  • The player died from leukaemia.

Prepositions in Time Expressions

When it comes to using prepositions in time expressions, English learners often make mistakes. In this section, we will discuss some of the common mistakes and how to use prepositions correctly in different time expressions.

At Vs. On Vs. In

One of the most common mistakes is using the wrong preposition when talking about time. For example, we use “at” for a specific time, “on” for a day or date, and “in” for a longer period. Here are some examples:

  • We have a meeting at 2 PM.
  • Our class starts on Monday.
  • I will be on vacation in July.

Before Vs. After

Another common mistake is using “before” and “after” incorrectly. We use “before” to refer to an earlier time and “after” to refer to a later time. Here are some examples:

  • We need to finish the project before Friday.
  • The party starts after dinner.

During Vs. While

Lastly, we often confuse “during” and “while.” We use “during” to refer to a period of time when something happens, and “while” to refer to the time when something happens. Here are some examples:

  • I read a book during my lunch break.
  • While I was reading a book, my phone rang.

By understanding the correct use of prepositions in time expressions, you can avoid common mistakes and improve your English communication skills.

Prepositions in Place Expressions

When it comes to using prepositions in place expressions, there are many common mistakes that English learners make. In this section, we will focus on some of the most frequently confused prepositions in place expressions: at vs. in, on vs. over, and under vs. below.

At Vs. In

The prepositions “at” and “in” are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. “At” is used for a specific point or location, while “in” is used for a larger, enclosed space. Here are some examples to help clarify the difference:

  • “I am at the library” (specific location)
  • “I am in the library” (larger, enclosed space)
  • “I am at the airport” (specific location)
  • “I am in the airport” (larger, enclosed space)

On Vs. Over

The prepositions “on” and “over” are also often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. “On” is used when something is physically touching a surface, while “over” is used when something is covering or hovering above a surface. Here are some examples to help clarify the difference:

  • “The book is on the table” (physically touching)
  • “The bird is flying over the table” (covering or hovering above)
  • “The picture is on the wall” (physically touching)
  • “The clouds are over the wall” (covering or hovering above)
Related  Prepositions | List of 50+ Popular Prepositions of Place - AT IN ON

Under Vs. Below

The prepositions “under” and “below” are similar in meaning, but “under” is used when something is physically beneath another object, while “below” is used when something is at a lower level. Here are some examples to help clarify the difference:

  • “The cat is under the bed” (physically beneath)
  • “The temperature is below freezing” (at a lower level)
  • “The keys are under the book” (physically beneath)
  • “The airplane is flying below the clouds” (at a lower level)

By understanding the differences between these commonly confused prepositions, you can improve your use of English in place expressions.

Prepositions with Verbs

When learning English, one of the most challenging aspects can be mastering the use of prepositions with verbs. In this section, we will cover some common mistakes that learners make and provide tips on how to use prepositions correctly.

Listen To Vs. Listen

One common mistake is using the preposition “to” with the verb “listen” when it is not necessary.

For example:

  • Incorrect: I am listening to the music.
  • Correct: I am listening to music” or “I am listening to the radio.”

However, there are some cases where “to” is required, such as “I am listening to what you are saying.

Look At Vs. Look

Another common mistake is using the preposition “at” with the verb “look” when it is not needed.

For example:

  • Incorrect: I am looking at the TV.
  • Correct: I am looking for the remote. / I am looking at the picture.

However, there are some cases where “at” is required, such as “I am looking at you.”

Talk To Vs. Talk

Using the preposition “to” with the verb “talk” is often unnecessary.

For example:

  • Correct: I am talking to my friend/ I am talking with my friend.

However, there are some cases where “to” is required, such as “I am talking to the teacher.”

Prepositions with Adjectives

In this section, we will discuss some common mistakes in the use of prepositions with adjectives. Let’s take a look at some examples and learn the correct usage of prepositions.

Afraid Of Vs. Afraid

Many English learners make the mistake of using “afraid of” and “afraid” interchangeably. However, there is a difference in their usage.

We use “afraid of” to indicate the thing or situation that causes fear.

  • For example, “I am afraid of spiders.”

On the other hand, we use “afraid” without a preposition when we want to express the feeling of fear.

  • For example, “I am afraid to go outside in the dark.”

Proud Of Vs. Proud

Another common mistake is using “proud of” and “proud” incorrectly.

We use “proud of” to show the reason for feeling proud.

  • For example, “I am proud of my daughter for winning the competition.”
Related  127 Popular Prepositional Phrases - IN, ON, AT, BY, OUT

We use “proud” without a preposition when we want to express the feeling of pride.

  • For example, “I am proud to be a part of this team.”

Happy For Vs. Happy

We also make mistakes in using “happy for” and “happy.” We use “happy for” to show the reason for feeling happy. For example, “I am happy for my friend’s success.” We use “happy” without a preposition when we want to express the feeling of happiness. For example, “I am happy to see you.”

Prepositions in Idiomatic Expressions

When learning English, it’s important to be aware of idiomatic expressions that use prepositions. These expressions can be tricky, even for advanced learners. Here are a few examples of common idiomatic expressions and their correct prepositions.

In Time Vs. On Time

“In time” means before a deadline or a specific event, while “on time” means at the exact time of the deadline or event. For example:

  • We need to finish this project in time for the deadline.
  • The train arrived on time.

At The End Vs. In The End

“At the end” refers to a specific point in time or location, while “in the end” refers to the final result or conclusion. For example:

  • We’ll meet at the end of the street.
  • In the end, we decided to go to the beach instead of the park.

On Purpose Vs. By Accident

“On purpose” means intentionally, while “by accident” means unintentionally. For example:

  • I spilled the coffee on purpose to get out of the meeting.
  • I broke the vase by accident while cleaning the room.

Practice and Exercises

Fill in the blanks for the missing words:

Exercise 1:

  1. I’m not very good ___ math. Answer: at
  2. She’s been waiting ___ the bus stop for 20 minutes. Answer: at
  3. I’m going to the store ___ buy some milk. Answer: to
  4. He was born ___ 1995. Answer: in
  5. The book is ___ the shelf. Answer: on
  6. I’m going ___ the party ___ my friend’s house. Answer: to, at
  7. She’s afraid ___ spiders. Answer: of
  8. He’s interested ___ learning a new language. Answer: in
  9. I’m tired ___ working all day. Answer: of
  10. The cat is hiding ___ the couch. Answer: under

Exercise 2:

  1. The restaurant is ___ the corner of Main Street and 1st Avenue. Answer: at
  2. I’m going to the beach ___ my family this weekend. Answer: with
  3. She’s been studying ___ hours every day for the exam. Answer: for
  4. The concert starts ___ 8 pm. Answer: at
  5. He’s been living ___ the same apartment for 5 years. Answer: in
  6. I’m looking forward ___ the weekend. Answer: to
  7. She’s been dreaming ___ visiting Paris for years. Answer: of
  8. The cat jumped ___ the table. Answer: onto
  9. I’m sorry ___ being late. Answer: for
  10. He’s been working ___ the company for 10 years. Answer: for

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