English Grammar

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CHAPTER 26.  PREPOSITIONS

The words at, in, of, on and to are examples of prepositions. A word such as a noun, pronoun or gerund following a preposition is said to be the object of the preposition. As pointed out previously, a personal pronoun following a preposition must be in the objective case.

A phrase beginning with a preposition can be referred to as a prepositional phrase. The prepositional phrases in the following examples are underlined.
e.g. He owns the house on the corner.
      We are waiting for her.
      She has read many books about flying.

In the first example, the noun corner is the object of the preposition on. In the second example, the personal pronoun her is the object of the preposition for. It can be seen that the personal pronoun her is in the objective case. In the third example, the gerund flying is the object of the preposition about.

A preposition serves to connect its object with the rest of a sentence. In doing so, a preposition indicates the relationship of the idea expressed in the prepositional phrase to the ideas expressed In the rest of the sentence.

For instance in the sentence He owns the house on the corner, the preposition on indicates that the words the corner express the location of the house referred to in the rest of the sentence. Similarly, in the sentence We are waiting for her, the preposition for indicates that the word her expresses the reason for the action of waiting referred to in the rest of the sentence.

Although there are fewer than one hundred English prepositions, although prepositions do not take endings, and although the structure of most prepositional phrases is simple, the use of English prepositions is very complex. The reasons for this are that most prepositions have more than one meaning, many prepositions can also be used as adverbs, prepositions are used in hundreds of idioms, many adjectives, nouns, and verbs must usually be followed by certain prepositions, and there are hundreds of phrasal verbs formed from combinations of verbs with adverbs and prepositions.

It should also be noted that the use of prepositions varies somewhat among the different dialects of English. For instance, as illustrated in the following example, there are some differences between British and North American English in the use of prepositions.
e.g. British Usage: There is a fence about the garden.
      American Usage: There is a fence around the garden.

The discussion below emphasizes the North American usage of English prepositions.

 

1. The meanings of prepositions

The table below gives the most usual meanings of English prepositions. Each meaning is illustrated by an example.

About
    1. On the subject of:  This is a story about elephants.
    2. Approximately:  He is about ten years old.

Above
    1. Higher than; over:  The plane flew above the clouds.
    2. Earlier on a page:  There is a heading above each diagram.

Across
    1. From one side to the other:  We walked across the field.
    2. On the other side of:  There is a store across the street.

After
    1. Later in time:  after ten o'clock; after lunch
    2. Later in a series:  Q comes after P in the alphabet.
    3. In pursuit of:  The dog ran after the cat.

Against
    1. In opposition to:  Theft is against the law.
    2. Touching; supported by:  I leaned my bicycle against the wall.

Along
    1. Following the length of:  We walked along the road.

Among
    1. Within a group:  The money was shared among three people.

Note: In formal English, among is usually used only when referring to more than two persons or things. In contrast, between is used when referring to two persons or things.

Around
    1. Circling something:  We walked around the block.
    2. Surrounding:  There is a fence around the garden.
    3. In different parts of:  I looked around the house for the keys.
    4. In the other direction:  We turned around and went back home.
    5. Approximately:  He is around six feet tall.

At
    1. A specific location:  at 23 Chestnut Street; at the park
    2. A point in time:  at 5 o'clock; at Christmas
    3. A condition:  at peace; at war; at rest
    4. An activity:  at work; at school; at play
    5. Towards:  Look at someone; wave at someone

Note: When referring to a specific location or to a point in time, at is usually used. When referring to a certain street or a certain day, on is usually used. When referring to a location as an area, or when referring to a unit of time longer than a day, in is usually used.
e.g. at Christmas; on Christmas day; in the Christmas holidays

Before
    1. Earlier in time:  before two o'clock; before Christmas
    2. Earlier in a series:  S comes before T in the alphabet.

Behind
    1. At the back of:  The little girl hid behind her mother.
    2. Late:  I am behind in my work.
    3. Cause; origin:  Who was behind that idea?

Below
    1. Lower than; under:  below freezing; below sea level
    2. Later on a page:  Footnotes are provided below the text.

Beneath
    1. Lower than; below:  beneath the earth

Beside
    1. Next to; at the side of:  I sit beside her in class.

Besides
    1. Also; as well as:  We study other languages besides English.

Note the differing meanings of beside and besides. Beside is usually used with reference to a physical location.

Between
    1. An intermediate location:  Toronto lies between Montreal and Vancouver.
    2. An intermediate time:  between Christmas and New Year's Day
    3. Intermediate in a series:  B comes between A and C in the alphabet.
    4. An intermediate amount:  between five and ten people
    5. Within a group of two:  The money was shared between two people.

Beyond
    1. Farther than:  The mountains lie beyond the horizon.
    2. Further than; exceeding:  That was beyond my expectations.

But
    1. Except:  I have read all but the last chapter.

Note: But is used more often as a conjunction than as a preposition.

By
    1. Near:  a house by the sea
    2. Past:  He waved as he drove by the house.
    3. Not later than:  Try to finish the work by next week.
    4. In units of:  cheaper by the dozen; sold by weight
    5. Through the means of:  travel by plane; written by him

Note: By is often used in combination with verbs in the Passive Voice.

Concerning
    1. Connected with; about:  He studies everything concerning trees.

Despite
    1. In spite of:  We walked downtown despite the rain.

Down
    1. To a lower position:  The ball rolled down the hill.
    2. Further along:  He lives down the street.

During
    1. Throughout a period:  She works during the day.
    2. Sometime within a period:  An accident occurred during the night.

Except
    1. Not including:  I have visited everyone except him.

For
    1. Duration of time:  We walked for two hours.
    2. Distance:  I walked for five kilometers.
    3. Purpose:  I bought this jacket for you.
    4. In the direction of:  She left for New York.
    5. In favor of:  We are for the proposal.
    6. Considering:  The boy is clever for his age.

From
    1. Place of origin:  We left from Boston; he comes from Mexico
    2. Start of a period of time:  from now on; from yesterday until today
    3. Start of a range:  From 20 to 30 people were present.
    4. Cause:  He suffers from nervousness.
    5. Source:  I first heard the story from you.

In
    1. Place thought of as an area:  in London; in Europe
    2. Within a location:  in the room; in the building
    3. Large units of time:  That happened in March, in 1992.
    4. Within a certain time:  I will return in an hour.
    5. By means of:  write in pencil; speak in English
    6. Condition:  in doubt; in a hurry; in secret
    7. A member of:  He is in the orchestra; in the navy
    8. Wearing:  the boy in the blue shirt
    9. With reference to:  lacking in ideas; rich in oil

Inside
    1. Within:  They are inside the house.

Into
    1. To the inside of:  We stepped into the room.
    2. Change of condition:  The boy changed into a man.

Like
    1. Resembling:  That looks like him.
    2. Appearing possible:  It looks like rain.
    3. Be in a suitable mood for:  I feel like going swimming.

Minus
    1. Less:  Three minus two equals one.

Near
    1. Close to:  near the school; near the ocean

Of
    1. Location:  east of here; the middle of the road
    2. Possession:  a friend of mine; the sound of music
    3. Part of a group:  one of us; a member of the team
    4. Measurement:  a cup of milk; two meters of snow

Off
    1. Not on; away from:  Please keep off the grass.
    2. At some distance from:  There are islands off the coast.

On
    1. Touching the surface of:  on the table; on the wall
    2. A certain day:  That happened on Sunday, on the 6th of June.
    3. A certain street:  on South Street
    4. About:  a book on engineering
    5. A state or condition:  on strike; on fire; on holiday
    6. By means of:  live on a pension; shown on television

Onto
    1. To a position on:  The child climbed onto the table.

Opposite
    1. Facing:  The library is opposite the fire station.

Out of
    1. To the outside of:  She went out of the room.
    2. From among:  We won two games out of three.
    3. Motive:  We spoke to them out of politeness.
    4. Material:  The bridge is made out of steel.
    5. Beyond:  out of control; out of danger

Outside
    1. On the outer side of:  outside the house
    2. Beyond the limits of:  outside my experience

Over
    1. Above; higher than:  There are cupboards over the sink.
    2. Covering:  We spread an extra blanket over the bed.
    3. Across:  I jumped over a puddle.
    4. More than:  It cost over ten dollars; it took over an hour
    5. During:  I saw him several times over the past week.
    6. By means of:  We made plans over the telephone.

Past
    1. Up to and beyond:  I walked past the house.
    2. After (in time):  It was past 2 o'clock; half past two
    3. Beyond:  past belief

Per
    1. For each:  60 kilometers per hour; price per liter

Plus
    1. With the addition of:  Six plus four equals ten.

Since
    1. From a specific time in the past:  I had been waiting since two o'clock.
    2. From a past time until now:  I have been waiting here since noon.

Note: Because of its meaning, the preposition since is usually used in combination with a perfect tense. It should be noted that the preposition for can also be used with a perfect tense. However, when used with reference to time, for is usually followed by a phrase referring to a period of time; whereas since is usually followed by a phrase referring to a specific time.
e.g. I have known him for six months.
      I have known him since January.
In the first example, for is followed by six months, which refers to a period of time. In the second example, since is followed by January, which refers to a specific time.

Through
    1. Across; from end to end of:  the main road through town
    2. For the whole of a period:  I slept through the night.
    3. By means of:  Skill improves through practice.

Throughout
    1. In every part of:  throughout the world
    2. For the whole of a period:  throughout the winter

Till
Note: Till can be used instead of until. However, at the beginning of a sentence, until is usually used.

To
    1. In the direction of:  Turn to the right.
    2. Destination:  I am going to Rome.
    3. Until:  from Monday to Friday; five minutes to ten
    4. Compared with:  They prefer hockey to soccer.
    5. With indirect object:  Please give it to me.
    6. As part of infinitive:  I like to ski; he wants to help.
    7. In order to:  We went to the store to buy soap.

Toward (or Towards)
    1. In the direction of:  We walked toward the center of town.
    2. Near; just before (time):  It rained towards evening.

Under
    1. Beneath:  under the desk; under the trees
    2. Less than:  Under 100 people were present.
    3. In circumstances of:  under repair; under way; under discussion

Underneath
    1. Below, under:  underneath the carpet

Until
    1. Up to a certain time:  She will stay until Friday; until 5 p.m.

Upon
Note: On and upon have similar meanings. Upon may be used in certain expressions, as in once upon a time, and following certain verbs, as in to rely upon someone.

Up
    1. To a higher place:  We went up the stairs.
    2. In a higher place:  She lives up the hill.

Up to
    1. As far as:  up to now; I have read up to page 100.
    2. Depending on:  The decision is up to you.
    3. As good as; ready for:  His work is up to standard.

Versus
    1. Against (sports, legal):  The next game is England versus Australia.

Via
    1. By way of:  He went to Los Angeles via San Francisco.

With
    1. Accompanying:  He came with her; I have my keys with me.
    2. Having; containing:  Here is a book with a map of the island.
    3. By means of; using:  I repaired the shoes with glue.
    4. Manner:  with pleasure; with ease; with difficulty
    5. Because of:  We were paralyzed with fear.

Within
    1. Inside of:  within twenty minutes; within one kilometer

Without
    1. Not having:  Do not leave without your coat; without money

See Exercises 1 and 2.

 

2. Prepositions used in idioms

Below are examples of idioms consisting of prepositional phrases. The following selection of idioms emphasizes those used in North American English. The meaning of each idiom is indicated after the colon.

At
    not at all:  not in any way
    at all times:  always
    at any rate:  whatever happens
    keep someone at arm's length:  avoid becoming closely involved with someone
    at close quarters:  very near
    at one's disposal:  to be used as one wishes
    at a distance:  not near
    at fault:  causing something wrong
    at first:  at the beginning
    see at a glance:  see immediately
    at hand:  near; readily available
    at last:  finally, after some delay
    at a loss:  uncertain what to do or say
    at the mercy of:  without defense against
    at the moment:  now
    at once:  immediately
    at present:  now
    at rest:  not moving
    at risk:  threatened by danger or loss
    at short notice:  with little warning
    at stake:  to be won or lost
    at a stretch:  continuously
    at that rate:  under those circumstances
    at this point:  at this place; at this moment
    at the wheel:  in control

Behind
    behind the scenes:  (of persons) influencing events secretly; (in a theater) behind the stage
    behind schedule:  not on time

Beside
    be beside oneself:  lose one's self-control
    beside the point:  irrelevant

Between
    read between the lines:  deduce a meaning that is not actually expressed

Beyond
    beyond help:  unable to be helped
    beyond a joke:  too annoying to be amusing
    beyond reproach:  perfect; blameless

By
    by accident:  not deliberately
    by all means:  by any possible method
    bit by bit:  gradually
    by chance:  by accident; without planning
    by courtesy of:  with the help or permission of
    win by default:  win because of lack of competition
    by degrees:  gradually
    perform by ear:  perform (music) by listening to the sound, without referring to written music
    by hand:  without the use of machinery
    by heart:  from memory
    little by little:  gradually
    by means of:  by using
    by mistake:  accidentally
    by no means:  not at all
    one by one:  one at a time
    by oneself:  alone
    side by side:  beside one another
    by the way:  incidentally (used to introduce an unrelated topic of conversation)
    by word of mouth:  orally

For
    once and for all:  for the last time (e.g. used when giving someone a final warning)
    for certain:  definitely; without doubt
    for a change:  for the sake of variety
    for example:  as an illustration
    for fun:  for the sake of enjoyment
    for good:  permanently
    for good measure:  in addition to the necessary amount
    for instance:  for example; as an illustration
    for keeps:  (colloquial) permanently
    for a living:  as a profession
    for now:  temporarily
    run for office:  compete for an elected position
    for one thing:  because of one reason (out of several)
    for the sake of:  for the benefit of; for the purpose of
    for sale:  intended to be sold
    for sure:  definitely (more colloquial than for certain)
    food for thought:  something which makes one think
    play for time:  delay doing something in the hope that the situation will improve
    for the time being:  until some other arrangement is made
    ask for trouble:  act in a dangerous or foolish way
    for a while:  for a period of time
    word for word:  exactly as said or written

From
    from afar:  from a distance
    from all sides:  from all directions
    from head to foot:  (of a person) completely; all over
    from scratch:  from the beginning
    from time to time:  occasionally

In
    in addition to:  as well as
    in advance:  before
    be in agreement with:  have the same opinion as
    in any case:  whatever happens
    in brief:  in a few words
    in bulk:  (of goods) in large amounts; not in packages
    be in charge of:  have responsibility for
    in common:  shared by all members of a group
    in control:  having the power to direct something
    in the course of:  during
    in danger:  likely to be harmed
    in a daze:  unable to think clearly; confused
    in debt:  owing money
    in demand:  (of goods or persons) desired by many people
    in depth:  (investigate something) thoroughly
    in detail:  (explain something) thoroughly
    in disgrace:  regarded with disapproval because of having done something wrong
    in the distance:  far away
    in doubt:  uncertain
    in duplicate:  so that there are two identical copies (of a document)
    in earnest:  seriously; in a determined way
    in effect:  (of rules) operating
    in the end:  finally
    in fact:  in reality; really
    in fashion:  fashionable; accepted as being the most desirable and up to date
    in favor of:  supporting (an idea)
    in flames:  burning, with visible flames
    in a flash:  very quickly; suddenly
    in full:  without omitting anything
    in general:  usually; as a whole
    hand in hand:  (of persons) holding hands; (of related situations) occurring together
    in a hurry:  trying to accomplish something quickly
    in jest:  as a joke
    in kind:  (payment) in goods rather than in money
    in itself:  without reference to anything else
    in league with:  (of persons) joined together with (usually for a dishonest purpose)
    be in the limelight:  be the focus of attention; receive great publicity
    in the long run:  in the end; eventually
    in the long term:  looking ahead to the distant future
    leave someone in the lurch:  abandon someone who is in a difficult situation
    be in the minority:  be in the smaller of two groups
    in mint condition:  (of manufactured goods) perfect; brand-new
    in a minute:  soon
    in a moment:  soon; quickly
    set something in motion:  start something going
    nip something in the bud:  put an end to something before it gets properly started
    in no time:  very soon; very quickly
    in order of:  arranged according to
    in order to:  for the purpose of
    in part:  to some degree
    in particular:  especially
    in power:  (of a political party) holding office
    in practice:  able to do something well because of recent practice; in reality (opposite of in theory)
    in print:  (of a book) printed and available from the publisher
    in private:  not in front of other people
    in public:  openly; not in private
    in reality:  really
    in reserve:  saved for later use
    in retrospect:  looking back over past events
    in return for:  as repayment for
    be in the right:  be correct
    in season:  (of fruit or vegetables) readily available at that time of year
    in a second:  soon; quickly
    in short supply:  scarce; not easily obtainable
    in sight:  able to be seen
    in stock:  (of goods at a store) present and available
    in that case:  if that is true
    in theory:  ideally; according to theoretical considerations
    be in time:  not be late
    in touch with in:  communication with; informed about
    in triplicate:  so that there are three identical copies (of a document)
    be in trouble:  be in a difficult situation; be blamed or punished for doing something wrong
    in tune:  at the correct pitch
    act in unison:  act together
    in vain:  without success
    in the vicinity of:  near
    once in a while:  occasionally
    in words of one syllable:  (explain something) clearly and simply
    in working order:  able to function properly
    in the wrong:  responsible for an error; guilty

Inside
    inside out:  with the inner side out; thoroughly

Into
    paint oneself into a corner:  take a course of action which greatly narrows one's future choices of action
    go into hiding:  hide oneself
    get into a rut:  get into a fixed and uninteresting way of life
    get into trouble:  get into a difficult situation; do something deserving blame or punishment

Of
    of course:  certainly; as one would expect; as everyone knows
    hard of hearing:  somewhat deaf
    next of kin:  nearest relative or relatives
    of one's own accord:  voluntarily; on one's own initiative
    of one's own free will:  voluntarily; by choice
    one's point of view:  one's opinion about something
    right of way:  public right to use a path or road; (of road traffic) right to proceed before others
    rule of thumb:  a simple way to calculate what procedure to follow, based on extensive experience, rather than on theoretical considerations

Off
    go off the air:  (of radio or television) stop broadcasting
    off duty:  not engaged in one's regular work
    off one's hands:  no longer one's responsibility
    off and on:  from time to time
    off the record:  say something privately, that is not to be officially recorded
    off the track:  following a wrong line of thought or action

On
    on account of:  because of
    be on the air:  (of radio or television) be in the process of broadcasting
    on the alert:  ready to act
    be on all fours:  (of a person) be on hands and knees
    on the average:  usually; normally
    on behalf of:  for; in the interests of
    on board:  on a ship or airplane
    on business:  as part of one's work
    on condition that:  only if; provided that
    on demand:  when asked for
    on display:  being exhibited
    on duty:  engaged in one's regular work
    on fire:  burning
    to go on foot:  to walk
    be on one's guard:  be alert and ready to meet an attack
    on hand:  available
    on loan:  lent and not yet returned
    shoot on location:  (of a movie) film in natural surroundings, not in a studio
    on the lookout:  watchful
    put something on the map:  cause something to become well-known
    get on one's nerves:  annoy; irritate
    on no account:  absolutely not
    on the one hand:  (used to introduce one side of an argument)
    on one's own:  alone; without help
    act on one's own initiative:  act independently, without orders from anyone else
    on order:  requested but not yet delivered
    on the other hand:  (used to introduce a contrasting side of an argument)
    act on principle:  do something to support a policy
    on purpose:  deliberately
    go on record:  say something which is to be officially recorded
    on sale:  being sold at a lower price than usual
    on schedule:  at the correct time; as planned or predicted
    on second thoughts:  after thinking further about something
    on a shoestring:  with a very small amount of money
    be on the spot:  be where important events are taking place; be placed in an awkward situation
    on the spur of the moment:  on a sudden impulse
    go off on a tangent:  change suddenly to a new line of thought or action
    on time:  at the correct time
    walk on tiptoe:  walk on the toes and balls of the feet
    accept something on trust:  accept something without proof
    on the verge of:  very close to; about to
    on the whole:  taking everything into consideration

Out of
    out of the blue:  unexpectedly
    out of breath:  (after running) panting from a shortage of oxygen
    out of character:  unlike a person's known character
    out of control:  not able to be regulated or guided
    out of danger:  safe
    out of date:  no longer used; old-fashioned; (of news) no longer true
    out of debt:  having paid one's debts
    be out of one's depth:  be unable to handle a situation because of lack of experience
    out of doors:  in the open air; not in a building
    out of fashion:  not fashionable; not presently in common use
    out of hand:  not under control
    out of harm's way:  safe
    out of line with:  in disagreement with
    be out of one's mind:  be insane
    out of order:  not functioning properly; (at a formal meeting) not behaving according to the rules
    out of the ordinary:  unusual
    out of place:  unsuitable
    out of practice:  unable to do something as well as one has in past, because of lack of recent practice
    out of print:  (of a book) no longer available from the publisher
    out of proportion:  too big or too small; not having the appropriate relationship to something
    out of the question:  impossible; not to be considered
    out of season:  (of fruit or vegetables) not readily available at that time of year
    out of shape:  (of persons) not in top condition because of lack of exercise
    out of sight:  hidden, not able to be seen
    out of stock:  (of goods at a store) temporarily unavailable
    out of style:  not fashionable
    out of touch:  with not in communication with; not informed about
    out of town:  having temporarily left town
    out of trouble:  not in trouble
    out of tune:  not at the correct pitch
    out of work:  no longer having employment

To
    to all intents and purposes:  in all important ways
    to a certain extent:  partly
    to date:  so far; until now
    up to date:  current; modern
    see eye to eye with:  agree entirely with
    take something to heart:  be much affected by something
    made to measure:  exactly suitable; (of clothes) made for a certain person
    keep something to oneself:  not tell anyone
    to the point:  relevant

Under
    under age:  below the age of being legally permitted to do something
    be under arrest:  be held prisoner and charged with wrongdoing
    under the auspices of:  with the patronage of; supported by
    under one's breath:  in a whisper
    under the circumstances:  because this is true
    under consideration:  being thought about
    under control:  able to be regulated or guided
    under cover of:  protected by; undetected because of
    under fire:  being shot at; being criticized
    under the impression that:  having the idea that
    be under the influence of:  be affected by
    be under oath:  have sworn to tell the truth
    under observation:  being watched carefully
    under restraint:  prevented from doing something

Up
    have something up one's sleeve:  have a secret idea or plan in reserve

With
    with impunity:  without risk of injury or punishment
    with the naked eye:  without using a magnifying lens
    with no strings attached:  (of help given) with no conditions; to be used freely
    take with a pinch of salt:  not believe completely
    with regard to:  concerning; about
    with respect to:  concerning; about
    tarred with the same brush:  having the same faults
    with a vengeance:  very much; more than usual

Within
    within limits:  to a certain extent; not too much
    within living memory:  within the memory of people now alive

Without
    go without saying:  be obvious

See Exercises 3 and 4.

 

3. Nouns followed by prepositions

The following are examples of nouns which are usually followed by certain prepositions. In the case of phrases which are idioms, the meanings of the phrases are indicated in brackets.

Against 
  take precautions against 
   
For 
  have affection for  make allowances for
  have compassion for  an excuse for
  a reason for  have a reputation for
  have respect for  have sympathy for
  have a talent for  lie in wait for (ambush)
  pave the way for (prepare for) 
   
From 
  absence from 
   
In 
  have confidence in  have faith in
  have an interest in  take part in
  make progress in 
   
Into 
  have insight into 
   
Of 
  have an abhorrence of  an acknowledgement of
  take advantage of  take care of
  take command of  evidence of
  an example of  an excess of
  make a fool of  make fun of (ridicule)
  have an impression of  a lack of
  neglect of  a number of
  a pair of  be part of
  a possibility of  make a practice of (do often)
  a proof of  a quantity of
  recognition of  a recollection of
  a result of  run the risk of (risk)
  catch sight of (see suddenly)  a sign of
  a survey of  a symbol of
  a symptom of  a token of
  make use of  a way of
  wash one's hands of (stop caring 
    about and dealing with) 
   
On 
  an attack on  dependence on
  make an impression on  play a joke on
  shed light on (explain)  have pity on
   
To 
  have access to  pay attention to
  an objection to  a reply to
  a response to  lay siege to (besiege)
  shut one's eyes to (deliberately 
    ignore a problem) 
   
Toward or Towards 
  animosity toward(s)  an attitude toward(s)
   
With 
  have a connection with  find fault with (criticize)
  fall in love with  change places with

See Exercise 5.

 

4. Adjectives and verbs in the passive voice followed by prepositions

In some cases different prepositions can be used without causing a change in meaning. For instance, the following examples both have the same meaning.
e.g. I was angry at them.
      I was angry with them.

However, in many cases, the use of different prepositions causes a change in meaning. For instance, the past participle protected is typically followed by the preposition from. However, like many other past participles, protected may also be followed by the preposition by, where by serves to introduce the performer of the action expressed by the past participle.
e.g. The city is protected from the soldiers.
      The city is protected by the soldiers.
The first example indicates that the soldiers are a threat to the city; whereas the second example indicates that the soldiers are protecting the city.

The following are examples of predicate adjectives and past participles of verbs in the Passive Voice which are usually followed by certain prepositions. In addition, it should be kept in mind that most verbs in the Passive Voice can be followed by a phrase beginning with the preposition by.

About 
  anxious about  concerned about
  curious about  depressed about
  doubtful about  enthusiastic about
  excited about  happy about
  pleased about  wrong about
  worried about 
   
At 
  adept at  alarmed at
  amazed at  overjoyed at
  shocked at  surprised at
   
Between 
  torn between 
   
By 
  accompanied by  caused by
  guided by  manufactured by
  obsessed by  written by
   
For 
  blamed for  eligible for
  famous for  fit for
  known for  late for
  noted for  praised for
  punished for  qualified for
  ready for  responsible for
  ripe for  sorry for
  suitable for 
   
From 
  absent from  apart from
  derived from  descended from
  detached from  different from
  distinct from  exempt from
  far from  isolated from
  omitted from  protected from
  removed from  safe from
  separated from 
   
In 
  absorbed in  disappointed in
  engaged in  immersed in
  interested in  involved in
   
Of 
  accused of  afraid of
  ashamed of  aware of
  capable of  certain of
  composed of  conscious of
  convinced of  deprived of
  devoid of  fond of
  ignorant of  independent of
  jealous of  proud of
  regardless of  reminded of
  sure of  suspicious of
  suspected of  terrified of
  tired of  worthy of
   
On 
  based on  dependent on
  intent on
   
To 
  acceptable to  accessible to
  accustomed to  adapted to
  addicted to  adjacent to
  attached to  attributable to
  close to  committed to
  comparable to  dedicated to
  detrimental to  devoted to
  due to  equal to
  equivalent to  essential to
  exposed to  faithful to
  favorable to  foreign to
  impervious to  indifferent to
  indispensable to  inferior to
  kind to  loyal to
  next to  obedient to
  obliged to  oblivious to
  opposed to  parallel to
  partial to  peculiar to
  preferable to  prior to
  proportional to  reconciled to
  reduced to  related to
  relative to  relevant to
  resigned to  resistant to
  restricted to  senior to
  sensitive to  similar to
  subject to  subordinate to
  suited to  superior to
  susceptible to  tied to
   
Toward or Towards 
  protective toward(s) 
   
With 
  acquainted with  affiliated with
  associated with  besieged with
  compared with  compatible with
  confronted with  consistent with
  covered with  cursed with
  exasperated with  familiar with
  finished with  identified with
  infatuated with  patient with
  pleased with  satisfied with
  synonymous with  threatened with

See Exercise 6.

 

5. Verbs followed by prepositions

The following are examples of verbs which are often followed by certain prepositions.

About 
  care about  complain about
  forget about  lie about (tell a lie)
  reminisce about  talk about
  think about  wonder about
  worry about 
   
Against 
  discriminate against  protest against
  react against  rebel against
  turn against 
   
At 
  aim at  bark at
  connive at  frown at
  gaze at  glare at
  growl at  hint at
  look at  point at
  shoot at  smile at
  snap at  sneer at
  stare at  wave at
  wink at 
   
For 
  apply for  apologize for
  beg for  blame for
  budget for  hope for
  long for  look for
  mourn for  pay for
  plead for  pose for
  pray for  prepare for
  press for  register for
  search for  shop for
  substitute for  vouch for
  wait for  wish for
   
From 
  abstain from  benefit from
  deduct from  derive from
  desist from  deter from
  detract from  deviate from
  differ from  divert from
  escape from  extricate from
  flee from  infer from
  profit from  protect from
  quote from  radiate from
  recoil from  recover from
  refrain from  shrink from
  stem from  suffer from
   
In 
  believe in  engage in
  indulge in  intervene in
  invest in  participate in
  persist in  succeed in
   
Into 
  change into  convert into
  delve into  dip into
  develop into  divide into
  fall into  merge into
  plunge into  pry into
  sink into  transform into
   
Of 
  approve of  beware of
  conceive of  consist of
  deprive of  die of
  disapprove of  smell of
   
On 
  blame on  concentrate on
  depend on  impinge on
  impose on  insist on
  intrude on  pounce on
  reflect on  rely on
  report on  spy on
  subsist on  thrive on
   
Over 
  preside over  trip over
   
To 
  adapt to  adhere to
  adjust to  amount to
  belong to  conform to
  contribute to  correspond to
  listen to  object to
  pertain to  prefer to
  refer to  relate to
  respond to  resort to
  revert to  submit to
  subscribe to  succumb to
  surrender to  yield to
   
With 
  agree with  associate with
  collaborate with  combine with
  communicate with  comply with
  concur with  consort with
  contend with  cooperate with
  cope with  correspond with
  flirt with  mingle with
  share with  sympathize with
   


See Exercise 7.

 

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