What you need to know about errors with prepositions


Definition of the error (prep*)

An error with a preposition (prep) occurs when a preposition has been incorrectly used. Prepositions can be used in a phrase (during the daytime), as a particle with a two- or three-word verb (turn in, check up on), or later a noun or an adjective (to be happy about).

Importance of mastering prepositions in writing

Knowning how to use prepositions correctly is very important in formal writing. Althought an error with a preposition is a local (less serious) error and thus affects only part of a sentence, many errors with prepositions in a piece of writing make it difficult for the reader to concentrate on the content while he or she is trying to supply the correct preposition.

In academic and professional writing, the reader experts to see correct use of prepositons. Correct preposition use depends more on memorization and usage than on reules. It is therefore difficult to master, but each small improvement in preposition use makes a text easier to read.

Suggestions for mastering prepositions

  • Remember that there are few rules for prepositions because preposition use is learned chiefly through listening and reading.
  • Memorize two- or three-word verb (phrase verb) so that you can use them correctly and automatically. Use an ESL dictionary to look up two- and tree-word verbs that you are unsure of.
  • Improve your control of prepositions by paying attention to them when you read and listening for them when people speak.
  • Ask a native speaker for help when you are unsure about a preposition.
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