How To Use Prepositions in English Correctly
As prepositions have different shades of meaning, they should be selected with care. The following suggestions should help you to use them correctly:
1. Ordinarily such prepositions as in, on, at, and hy denote rest; such prepositions as to, into, unto, toward, from, and a few others, denote motion.
1. The telegram is lying on the table.
2. The messenger walked to the station. in denotes position or presence within; into, entrance.
1. All employees of the Crossett Lumber Company live in the village.
2. A stranger came into the office to inquire for work.
3. Between should be used with reference to two persons or things; among, with reference to three or more.
1. The unsuccessful man divided his time between gambling and speculation.
2. The company distributed the money as a bonus among its employees.
4. Beside means by the side of; besides, in addition to.
1. The plaintiff sat beside his attorney.
2. Besides ambition, the salesman should have patience.
5. In should be used when reference is made to the interior of any place. It is used before the names of countries or districts and of large cities. At should be used generally in speaking of a place regarded as a mere local point, such as a village.
1. The president of the company arrived in New York on Friday.
2. Our agent stopped at Lake Village, a small town in Arkansas.
6. On and upon should be considered as absolute synonyms, but upon is more emphatic. Upon is also the proper
word to use with depend—as, ”Your ability in any line will depend upon dozens of important character quahties.”
Some crude errors in the use of prepositions are due almost wholly to carelessness. These consist chiefly of the omission of a necessary preposition or the addition of an unnecessary one. Do not omit a preposition whenever it is necessary to the grammatical completeness of the statement or adds clearness or emphasis. For example, it is incorrect to say, ^’Any size envelope will be satisfactory.”
Say, “An envelope of any size will be satisfactory.” It is also very poor usage to say, “It is no use,” “It is no availl.’
“It is no consequence,” etc. Note the gain in effectiveness when stated thus: ” It is of no use,” ” It is of no avail,” ” It is of no consequence,” etc.
Do not say, ” Where is the telegram at?” or “Why did you do it for?” In both cases much is gained by the omission of at and for.
Another incorrect expression, limited almost wholly to oral speech, is off of— as, ” The copy of the contract fell off of the table.” Here the word of should be omitted.
Also in such sentences as ” I do not remember of his mailing the letter,” the word of is not permissible. It is correct to say, “I do not remember his mailing the letter.”
The use of the word of to take the place of have in such expressions as could of, would of, should of, might of, may I had of, and must of is inexcusably bad. The correct expressions are, of course, could have, would have, should have, might have, may have, had, and must have.
WORDS FOLLOWED BY SPECIAL PREPOSITIONS
The preposition to be used after a word sometimes depends upon the sense in which the word is used. For example:
Accommodate with a desirable or needed thing.
My banker accommodated me with a loan.
Accommodate to, to adapt.
They accommodated themselves to their surroundings.
Accused of crime or offense.
The treasurer has been accused of embezzlement.
Accused by a person.
The young man was accused by his employer.
Adapted for something by nature.
The rich delta land was adapted for cotton.
Adapt from an author.
The paragraph was adapted from Read’s “Salesmanship.”
Adapt to a thing.
Our customers became adapted to the new high-price level.
Agree to a plan, a proposal, or an opinion.
Edison sometimes agreed to the plans of his friends.
Agree with a person.
Mr. Perkins agreed with me that an investment in oil is unsafe.
Agree upon a decision.
The officers of the company agreed upon an advertising campaign.
Angry at a thing.
The customer became angry at my sarcastic remarks.
Angry with a person.
You cannot afford to become angry with a customer.
Attend to business.
The manager of a small concern frequently attends to all the business of his office.
Attend upon a person.
The gentleman’s secretary attended upon him throughout his visit to South America.
Attended by a person.
The capitalist was attended by his faithful servant. ‘
Attended with consequences.
The rainy season was attended with heavy losses to cotton.
Beset by evils.
Before banks became numerous many business men were beset by highwaymen.
Beset with arguments.
The crafty salesman beset his customer with many arguments.
Communicate to a person, to give information to.
Through extensive advertising we have communicated to the public the facts about the merits of our goods.
Communicate with a person, to speak or write to.
Should you need additional cars, communicate with any one of our salesmen.
Compare to unHke things.
The personality of a salesman may be compared to magnetism.
Compare with like things or similar qualities.
Our rubber goods compare favorably with those of any other company.
Consist in, to have the substance, foundation, or character.
Tact in salesmanship consists in the ability to do the right thing at the right time.
Consist of, to be made of or composed of.
Our stock of goods consists of dniigs and stationery.
Confide in, to trust in.
The people would gladly confide in men like Mr. Straus.
Confide to, to trust to.
The manager confided to his stenographer several important papers.
Die of disease (not from disease).
In 1918-19 so many people died of influenza that the Iowa
Bankers’ Life Company suspended payment of dividends.
Differ from a person or thing in likeness.
Our new Steel Filing equipment difers greatly from the wooden one we have been using.
Differ with, in opinion.
None of our competitors has dared to difer with us concerning the merits of the Chalmers Sedan.
Different from (not diferent than or to).
Your work in the office is different from mine. Do not say “Your work in the office is diferent than mine.”
Part from a person.
It was hard to part from my old partner, Mr. Brown.
Part with a thing.
A salesman must make his article of merchandise so attractive that the customer will be ready to part with his money.
Remonstrate against a thing.
The managers of the large department stores remonstrated against the closing order issued by the Board of Health.
Remonstrate with a person.
The foreman stopped to remonstrate with some striking workmen.
Taste for literature, music, art, etc.
Working people should endeavor to cultivate a taste for good literature.
Taste of food.
The taste oj pie was unknown to the employees at the lumber camps.
Omit of when taste is used as a verb — as,I Taste the pie.”
As I said, do not get overwhelmed with this grammar part. But if you are already confident about it, then be sure to read other articles in this series.