Using the wrong preposition


 Ashamed of, not from.

  1. Don’t Say: He’s now ashamed from his conduct.    
  2. Say: He’s now ashamed of his conduct.

Note: It isn’t correct to use ashamed of meaning shy. Ashamed means feeling shame or guilt about something. Shy means feeling nervous with someone. Instead of saying: I’m ashamed (or shamed) of my teacher, Say: I’m shy of my teacher.

Accustomed to, not with.

  1. Don’t Say: I’m accustomed with hot weather.
  2. Say: I’m accustomed to hot weather.

Note: Also used to: He is to the heat.

Travel by train, etc., not with the train, etc.

  1. Don’t Say: He travelled with the train yesterday.
  2. Say: He travelled by train yesterday.

Note: We Say: by train, by boat by plane, by bike; also, by land, by sea, by air, by bus; in a bus or on a bus; by car or in a car, by taxi or in a taxi; on horse-back, on a donkey, on a bicycle; on foot.

Absorbed (- very much interested) in, not at.

  1. Don’t Say: The man was absorbed at his work.
  2. Say: The man was absorbed in his work.

 Aim at, not on or against.

  1. Don’t Say: She aimed on {or against) the target.
  2. Say: She aimed at the target.

Note: Use the preposition at to denote direction, throw at, shout at, fire at shoot at, Shoot (without the at) means to kill.  He shot a bird (= he hit and killed it)

Accuse of, not for.

  1. Don’t Say: She accused the man for stealing.
  2. Say: She accused the man of stealing.

Note: Charge takes with the man was charged with murder.

Afraid of, not from.

  1. Don’t Say: James is afraid from the dog.
  2. Say: James is afraid of the dog.

 Anxious (= troubled) about, not for.

  1. Don’t Say: They’re anxious for his health.
  2. Say: They’re anxious about his health.

Note: Anxious meaning wishing very much takes for. Parents are anxious

Careful of, with or about, not for.

  1. Don’t Say: Elke’s very careful for her health.  
  2. Say: Elke’s very careful of/about her health.
  3. Or: You should be more careful with your money.

Note: Take care of: Ram take care of his money.

Arrive at, not to.

  1. Don’t Say: We arrived to the village at night. 
  2. Say: We arrived at the village at night.

Note: Use arrive in with countries and large cities. Mr. Smith has arrived in London (or New York, India, etc.)

Angry with, not against.

  1. Don’t Say: The teacher was angry against him.       
  2. Say: The teacher was angry with him.

Believe in, not to.

  1. Don’t Say: We believe to God. 
  2. Say:  We believe in God.

Note: To believe in means to have faith in. To believe (without the in) means to regard something as true: I believe everything he says.

Complain about, not for.

  1. Don’t Say: Annette complained for the weather. 
  2. Say: Annette complained about the weather.

Note: When talking about illness we use complain of. 

  • We Say: She complained of a sore throat.

Boast of or about, not for.

  1. Don’t Say: James boasted for his strength.
  2. Say: James boasted of (or about) his strength.

Conform to, not with.

  1. Don’t Say: We must conform with the rules.
  2. Say: We must conform to the rules.

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

Composed of, not from.

  1. Don’t Say: Our class is composed from thirty students. 
  2. Say: Our class is composed of thirty students.

Confidence in, not to.

  1. Don’t Say: I have great confidence to you.
  2. Say: I have great confidence in you.

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

 Congratulate on, not for.

  1. Don’t Say:  I congratulate you for your success.
  2. Say: I congratulate you on your success.

 Covered with, not by.

  • Don’t Say: The mountains are covered by snow.     
  • Say: The mountains are covered with/in snow.

Consist of, not from.

  1. Don’t Say: A year consists from twelve months.     
  2. Say: A year consists of twelve months.

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

Depend on or upon, not from.

  1. Don’t Say: It depends from her.
  2. Say: It depends on (or upon) her.

Cure of, not from.

  1. Don’t Say: The man was cured from his illness.
  2. Say: The man was cured of his illness.

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

Deprive of, not from.

  1. Don’t Say:  Nelson Mandela was deprived from his freedom.
  2. Say:  Nelson Mandela was deprived of his freedom.

Die of an illness, not from an illness.

  1. Don’t Say:  Many people have died from malaria.  
  2. Say: Many people have died of malaria.

Note: People die of illness, of hunger, of thirst, of or from wounds; from overwork; by violence, by the sword, by pestilence; in battle; for their country, for a cause; through neglect; on the scaffold; at the stake.

Disappointed by, about or at, not from.

(a)    by/at/about:

  1. Don’t Say:  Phillipa was disappointed from the low mark she got in the test.
  2. Say: Phillipa was disappointed by/about/at the low mark she got in the test.

Different from, not than

  1. Don’t Say:  My book is different than yours.
  2. Say: My book is different from yours.

 (b)  with/in:

  1. Don’t Say: Jane was disappointed from her son.
  2. Say: 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.

  No doubt (n) of or about, not for.

  1. Don’t Say:  I’ve no doubt for his ability,
  2. Say: I’ve no doubt of (or about) his ability.

Divide into parts, not in parts.

  • Don’t Say: I divided the cake in four parts.
  • Say: 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).

Note: Doubtful of: I am doubtful of his ability to pass.

Dressed in, not with.

  1. Don’t Say: The woman was dressed with black.
  2. Say: The woman was dressed in black.

Note: The woman was in black is also correct.

Exchange for, not by.

  1. Don’t Say: He exchanged his collection of matchboxes by some foreign stamps.
  2. Say: He exchanged his collection of matchboxes for some foreign stamps.

Note: In exchange for: He gave them his old car in exchange for a new one.

Exception to, not of.

  1. Don’t Say: This is an exception of the rule.  
  2. Say: This is an exception to the rule.

Note: We say with the exception of: She liked all her subjects with the exception of physics

Fail in, not from.

  1. Don’t Say:  Steven failed from math’s last year.
  2. Say: Steven failed in math’s last year.

Full of, not with or from.

  1. Don’t Say: The jar was full with (or from) oil.        
  2. Say: The jar was full of oil.

Note: Fill takes with: Jane filled the glass with water.

Get rid of, not from.

  1. Don’t Say:  I’ll be glad to get rid from him.   
  2. Say: I’ll be glad to get rid of him.

 Good at, not in. (Good at means Skill)

  1. Don’t Say: My sister’s good in math’s.
  2. Say: My sister’s good at math’s.

Note 1: Bad at, clever at, quick at, slow at, etc. However, weak in: He’s weak in grammar.

Glad about, not from or with.

  1. Don’t Say: Francis was glad from (or with) receiving your letter.
  2. Say: Francis was glad about receiving your letter.

 Guilty of, not for.

  1. Don’t Say:  He was found guilty for murder.
  2. Say:  He was found guilty of murder

Guard against, not from.

  1. Don’t Say: You must guard from bad habits.
  2. Say: You must guard against bad habits.

Independent of, not from.

  1. Don’t Say:  Clare’s independent from her parents. /
  2. Say:  Clare’s independent of her parents.

Note: We say dependent on: A child is dependent on its parents.

 Insist on, not to.

  1. Don’t Say: He always insisted to his opinion.   
  2. Say: He always insisted on his opinion.

Indifferent to, not for.

  1. Don’t Say: They’re indifferent for politics. 
  2. Say:  They’re indifferent to politics.

Note:  Persist takes in:  He persisted in his silly Ideas.

 Jealous of, not from.

  1. Don’t Say: He’s very jealous from his brother.       
  2. Say: He’s very jealous of his brother.

Interested in, not for.

  1. Don’t Say:  She’s not interested for her work. 
  2. Say: She’s not interested in her work.

Note:  Also take an interest in:  She takes a great interest in music.

Leave for a place, not to a place.

  1. Don’t Say: They’re leaving to England soon.
  2. Say: They’re leaving for England soon.

Look at, not to

  1. Don’t Say: Look to this beautiful picture.      
  2. Say: Look at this beautiful picture.

Married to, not with.

  1. Don’t Say: Angela was married with a rich man. 
  2. Say:  Angela was married to a rich man.

Live on, not from.

  1. Don’t Say: He lives from his brother’s money. 
  2. Say: He lives on his brother’s money.

Note:  Feed on:  Some birds feed on insects. 

Note: Also gaze at, stare at, etc.  But:  look after (= take care of);  look for (= try to  find);   look over (= examine);  look into (= examine  closely);  look   on or upon (= consider);  look down on (= have a low opinion of), look up to (=  respect);   look out for (=  expect);  look forward to (= expect with  pleasure); look to (=  rely on)

Note:  Also engaged to:  Sally was engaged to Peter for a year before they got married.

Opposite to, not from

  1. Don’t Say: Their house is opposite from ours. 
  2. Say:  Their house is opposite to ours.

Note: Opposite ours is also correct.

  •  Play for a team, not with a team.

Don’t Say: He plays regularly with that team.

Say:  He plays regularly for that team.

Pass by a place, not from a place.

  1. Don’t Say: Will you pass from the post-office?       
  2. Say: Will you pass by the post-office?

Note: Also pass the post-office is correct.

Popular with, not among.

  1. Don’t Say: John’s popular among his friends.         
  2. Say: John’s popular with his friends 

Prefer to, not from.

  1. Don’t Say: I prefer a blue pen from a red one.  
  2. Say: I prefer a blue pen to a red one.

Note:  Also preferable to:  This car is preferable to my old one.

 Pleased with, not from.

  1. Don’t Say: The teacher is pleased from me. 
  2. Say: The teacher is pleased with me.

Note:  We say pleased at or pleased with if an abstract noun or a clause follows:   They were pleased at (or with) what he said; They were pleased at (or with) her results.

Preside at or over, not in.

  1. Don’t Say: Who presided in the last meeting?
  2. Say: Who presided at (or over) the last meeting?

Proud of, not for.

  1. Don’t Say:  He’s very proud for his promotion.       
  2. Say:  He’s very proud of his promotion.

Note: We say take (a) pride in A craftsman takes a pride in his work .

Related to, not with.

  1. Don’t Say: Are you related with Simon in any way? /        
  2. Say:  Are you related to Simon in any way?

Rejoice at or in, not for.

  1. Don’t Say: We rejoiced for her success.
  2. Say: We rejoiced at (or in) her success.

Note: Also, relation to: Is he any relation to you?

Repent of, not from.

  1. Don’t Say:  He repented from his crime. 
  2. Say: He repented of his crime.

 Similar to, not with.

  1. Don’t Say: Your house is similar with mine.   
  2. Say: Your house is similar to mine.

Satisfied with, not from.

  1. Don’t Say: Are you satisfied from your marks?  
  2. Say: Are you satisfied with your marks?

 Note: Also, content with, delighted with, unhappy with, happy with, displeased with, dissatisfied with, disgusted with.

 Spend on, not for.

  1. Don’t Say:  I spend a lot of time for my computer. 
  2. Say: I spend a lot of time on my computer.

 Succeed in, not at.

  1. Don’t Say: I hope he’ll succeed at his work.  
  2. Say: I hope he’ll succeed in his work.

Note: A person succeeds to a property, a title, or an office: Queen Elizabeth II succeeded to the throne in 1952. Also, one person can succeed another.

Sit at a desk etc., not on a desk etc.

  1. Don’t Say: The bank manager was sitting on his desk.   
  2. Say: The bank manager was sitting at his desk.

Note: Also sit at a table. But on a chair, on a bench, on a sofa, etc.; in an arm-chair, in a tree or up a tree. A bird sometimes perches {= sits) on a tree.

Superior to, not from or than.

  1. Don’t Say: This is superior from (or than) that.
  2. Say: This is superior to that.

Note: Also inferior to, junior to, senior to, subsequent to, prior to.

Sure of, not for.

  1. Don’t Say:  I’m quite sure for her honesty. 
  2. Say: I’m quite sure of her honesty.

Note: Also certain of: I am quite certain of it

Suspect of, not for.

  1. Don’t Say: I suspect Kate for stealing the pen.
  2. Say: I suspect Kate of stealing the pen.

Surprised at or by, not for.

  1. Don’t Say:  Harold was surprised for the loud bang.    
  2. Say: Harold was surprised at/by the loud bang.

Note: Also astonished at/by, amazed at/by, alarmed at/by, puzzled at/by

Note: Also suspicious of: Dogs are suspicious of strangers.

Take by, not from.

  1. Don’t Say:  Robert took his brother from the hand.       
  2. Say: Robert took his brother by the hand.

Note: Also: hold by, catch by, seize by, snatch by, grasp by.

Tie to, not on.

  1. Don’t Say: The girl tied the string on the kite.
  2. Say:  The girl tied the string to the kite.

Note: Also bind to: The prisoner was bound to the stake

Warn (a person) of danger, not about danger.

  1.  Don’t Say: They were warned about the danger.
  2. Say: They were warned of the danger.

Note 1: Use warn about for specific things: They warned us about the bumps.

Note 2: We warn a person against a fault: His teacher warned him against breaking the rules.

 Translate into, not to.

  1. Don’t Say: Translate this passage to English.       
  2. Say: Translate this passage into English.

Tremble with cold, etc., not from cold, etc.

  1. Don’t Say: The man was trembling from cold.
  2. Say: The   man was trembling with cold.

Tired of, not from.

  1. Don’t Say: The boys are tired from eating boiled eggs.
  2. Say: The boys are tired of eating boiled eggs.

Note: Also shake with and shiver with: The thief was shaking with fear.

Write in ink, not with ink.

  1. Don’t Say:  I’ve written the letter with ink.
  2. Say: I’ve written the letter in ink.

Note: We use in when we are referring to the final work: The drawing was done in charcoal. Dora writes her letters in green ink. When we are referring to the instrument used, we use with: The children are learning to write with a pen. Helen prefers to paint with a thin brush.

Have another look at…

Prepositions after certain words

Note:  carefully the prepositions used after the following words:

accuse of guilty of
accustomed  to independent of
afraid of indifferent   to
aim at insist  on
angry with, at interested  in
arrive at, in jealous of
ashamed of look  at
believe in married to
boast of no doubt of or  about
careful of, with, about pleased with
complain  about prefer  to
composed of proud of
conform  to related  to
congratulate on repent of
consist of satisfied   with
cure of similar  to
depend on succeed  in
deprive of superior  to
die of sure of different  from
surprised  at,  by  
dressed’ in suspect of
fail in tired of
full of translate  into
good at warn  of      about
guard  against  

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