Common Problems And Self Help Strategies

COMMON PROBLEMS AND SEL-HELP STRATEGIES


Three problems ESL writers commonly encounter with prepositions

PROBLEM 1

A wrong preposition has been used in a prepositional phrase or in an idiomatic expression using a preposition

Example:

Incorrect My brother lives in Anderson Street.
Correct My brother lives on Anderson Street.

Self-helf Strategy:

Be aware that because the rules for preposition use are very limited, you may frequently have to ask a native speaker for help. However, since some rules do exist, it is a good idea not only to learn the rules below but also to read about preposition use in a comprehensive ESL grammar text

PROBLEM 2

An incorrect preposition has been used following an adjective or a noun

Example:

Incorrect I sometimes fell uncomfortable in speaking up in class.
Correct I sometimes fell uncomfortable about speaking up in class.
Correct I sometimes fell uncomfortable speaking up in class.(no preposition need)

Self-helf Strategy:

Remember that you can solve many of these problems by looking up the adjective or noun in an ESL dictionary to see which preposition(s) it can take.

Example:

  • I am happy about getting a part-time job

In this sentence, the preposition about is used with the adjective happy. An ESL dictionary will indicate that about can be used with happy

PROBLEM 3

A verb + preposition problem has occorred

  • a. The prepotion that goes with a given verb in missing

Example:

Incorrect I will have to sudy more tonight to compensate the time I lost yesterday
Correct I will have to sudy more tonight to compensate for the time I lost yesterday
  • b. A preposition is used when it is not needed after a given verb

Example:

Incorrect In my paper, I emphasized about the need for smaller classes for undergraduates.
Correct In my paper, I emphasized the need for smaller classes for undergraduates.
  • c. The wrong preposition has been used after a given verb

Example:

Incorrect The professor often refers on the text book.
Correct The professor often refers to the text book.
  • d. A preposition that is part of a phrasal verb (two-word or three-word verb) is incorrect or missing

Example:

Incorrect He just hung off the phone.
Correct He just hung off the phone.
Incorrect We will have to call over the birthday party.
Correct We will have to call off the birthday party.
Incorrect I am going to have to work hard to catch up the work that i have missed.
Correct I am going to have to work hard to catch up on the work that i have missed.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License