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Five Common Mistakes with Prepositions You Can Easily Avoid


Prepositions are like little bridges between words that add more depth to our language. As small as these words may be, they’re mighty in their capacity to change meaning and add clarity. However, using them correctly can sometimes feel like trying to catch a slippery fish. But don’t worry, I’m throwing you a life-raft here with this blog post. I’ll guide you through five common prepositions mistakes and give you tips to sail smoothly in the sea of English language.

Mistake 1: Incorrect Prepositions with Particular Words

There are some English words that are often accomplices in confusion because they insist on teaming up with specific prepositions. The word ‘afraid’, for example, doesn’t like to hang out with any preposition except ‘of’. Saying “I’m afraid from spiders” will let everyone know that prepositions are your nemesis.

The key to mastering this area of grammar lies in familiarity and practice. You can start with a list of words and their preposition partners and test yourself regularly. Fun language learning apps are a mnemonics-powered secret weapon. Trust me, the word ‘to’ will start looking somewhat lonely without ‘listen’ after a few quizzes!

Five Common Mistakes with Prepositions You Can Easily Avoid
Five Common Mistakes with Prepositions You Can Easily Avoid

Mistake 2: Overcomplicating Sentences with Unnecessary Prepositions

Sometimes, in our quest to sound sophisticated, we go overboard with prepositions, stuffing our sentences until they’re ready to burst. Take for instance, “She jumped off of the bridge”. The extra ‘of’ here is as unnecessary as gummy bears on a pizza.

The tip to avoid overfilling your sentences is to regularly proofread your text. If you can take out a preposition and the sentence still makes sense, ditch it! Remember, simplicity isn’t a lack of sophistication, it’s clear, precise communication.

Mistake 3: Misunderstanding Phrasal Verbs

Think of prepositions in phrasal verbs as the Robin to Batman. They complete the dynamic duo. Take ‘up’ away from ‘wake up’, and you’re left with a sentence that paints a very different picture.

Common mistakes are often due to misunderstanding the verb-preposition pairing. For instance, saying “I’ll look at it” instead of “I’ll look into it” changes the meaning entirely. Invest time in learning these pairings like song lyrics, and soon you’ll be hitting all the right language notes.

Mistake 4: Prepositions in Passive Voice

The passive voice is tricky enough without prepositions getting involved. When they do, it can feel like trying to navigate through a linguistic maze. A sentence like “The cat was chased by the dog” can unintentionally become “The cat was chased for the dog”.

Test yourself. Try transforming active voice sentences into passive — and check your answers! With time, the passive voice won’t seem as daunting as before.

Mistake 5: Incorrect Prepositions in Indirect Speech

Converting direct speech to indirect often leads to major preposition faux pas. Prepositions randomly take vacations from sentences, leaving behind a sense of confusion. “I told John that I would meet him ‘on’ Sunday” is often said as, “I told John I would meet him Sunday”.

To avoid this, visualize the scenario in your speech. If the direct speech involves any ‘time’ or ‘place’, add those handy preposition friends!


With practice and patience, you can sail through prepositions without capsizing! Remember, they’re like little bridges connecting your thoughts. So let’s build solid, mistake-free bridges!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Why is correctly using prepositions so crucial in communication? Correct use of prepositions can make the difference between creating a clear picture and causing total confusion with your language.
  • Is it a serious error if I use a preposition incorrectly? While it’s not the end of the world, it can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunications.
  • Are there instances when breaking preposition rules is acceptable? Language is flexible and evolving, so there are exceptions, such as in informal or creative writing.
  • What is the best way to practice and improve my preposition use? Regular quizzes, reading, writing and attention to language used around you can greatly help.
  • How can I remember which prepositions go with which words? This is mostly about memory and practice. Try techniques like word association, or flashcards to help retain the couplings.