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Prepositions, Compound Prepositions, Place of Prepositions in the Sentence, Problematic Prepositions of Time and Space


In this unit you will learn:


Compound Prepositions

Place of Prepositions in the Sentence

Problematic Prepositions of Time and Space


Read the following fragment from Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence. Pay attention to the use of preposition in English. In what way are prepositions different in Romanian? Try to see when the use of the English prepositions is different from the use in Romanian:

She hurried out of the side garden to the front, where she could stand as if in an immense gulf of white light, the moon streaming high in face of her, the moonlight standing up from the hills in front, and filling the valley where the Bottoms crouched, almost blindingly. There, panting and half weeping in reaction from the stress, she murmured to herself over and over again: "The nuisance! the nuisance!" She became aware of something about her. With an effort she roused herself to see what it was that penetrated her consciousness. The tall white lilies were reeling in the moonlight, and the air was charged with their perfume, as with a presence. Mrs. Morel gasped slightly in fear. She touched the big, pallid flowers on their petals, then shivered. They seemed to be stretching in the moonlight. She put her hand into one white bin: the gold scarcely showed on her fingers by moonlight. She bent down to look at the binful of yellow pollen; but it only appeared dusky. Then she drank a deep draught of the scent. It almost made her dizzy.

Mrs. Morel leaned on the garden gate, looking out, and she lost herself awhile. She did not know what she thought. Except for a slight feeling of sickness, and her consciousness in the child, herself melted out like scent into the shiny, pale air. After a time the child, too, melted with her in the mixing-pot of moonlight, and she rested with the hills and lilies and houses, all swum together in a kind of swoon.

Ways with Words

How many times does the preposition on appear in the text? Learn some expressions containing this preposition.

to be on duty = a fi de serviciu;

on account of = pe baza, din cauză că, luând în consideratie că;

on and on = fără întrerupere, la nesfârsit;

and so on = si asa mai departe;

on this ground = din acest motiv;

to turn on/ to switch on (the light, the radio, etc.) = a deschide/ a aprinde (lumina, radioul,etc.);

on this assumption = pe baza acestei presupuneri;

on the basis of = pe baza;

on behalf of sb. = în numele cuiva, din partea cuiva;

on the contrary = din contră;

on a large/small scale = pe scară mare/mică;

on record = cunoscut;

on the score of = ca rezultat;

on the verge of = pe punctul de, pe cale, în pragul;

on the whole = în general, în întregime;

on demand = la cerere;

on condition that = cu conditia;

on purpose = dinadins, intentionat;

on principle = din principiu;

on the first attempt = la prima încercare;

on a sudden = brusc, deodată, pe neasteptate;

on trial = de probă.

Now practise these expressions in sentences of your own.

How do you translate: She hurried out of the side garden to the front [.]? Now learn some expressions containing the preposition to.

to advantage = cu profit/ folos;

to the best of one's power/ ability = după puterea/ capacitatea cuiva;

to cut the matter short = pe scurt;

to date = la zi;

to the dot (of an i) = până în cele mai mici amănunte;

to this effect = în acest scop;

to a fraction = până la milimetru;

to and fro = înainte si înapoi, ici si colo;

to hand = la îndemână;

to little purpose = cu putin efect, mai degeaba;

to my knowledge = după câte stiu;

to one's mind = după părerea cuiva;

to the letter = întocmai, ad litteram;

to the utmost = (până) la maximum, în cea mai mare măsură;

to the very moment = chiar până în clipa;

short and to the point = scurt si la obiect

Now practise these expressions in sentences of your own.

Grammar Reference


Prepositions are connecting words that show relationships between words in a sentence. A preposition followed by a complement (object) forms a prepositional phrase. Nouns, pronouns, noun phrases, gerunds or noun clauses can be complements (objects) of prepositions.

Note that in English, prepositions usually precede their objects:

Put it on the chair and leave!

Look at him.

Because of you, I can't get any work done.

After telling the whole story, he disappeared

Types of prepositions, according to form:

a. Simple:

about, above across, after, against, along, amid, among, anent, around, at, athwart; before, behind, below, beneath, besides, between, betwixt, beyond, but, by; concerning, considering; down, during; except, excepting; failing, for, from; in; near, notwithstanding; of, off, on, over; past, pending, per; regarding, respecting, round; save, saving, since; through, till, to, touching, towards; under, until, up; via; with

b. Compound:

alongside, into, inside, onto, outside, throughout, upon, underneath, within, without.

c. Complex:

according to, along with, as far as, as for, as to, because of, down to, except for, from 323g64d among, from inside, from under, in between, instead of, out of, over against, round about, up against, up to.

d. Prepositional Phrases:

ahead of, apart from, as a result of, at the back of, by dint of, by means of, by reason of, by the side of, by way of, caused by, due to, for fear of, for the sake of, in aid of, in behalf of, in case of, in consequence of, in default of, in front of, in honour of, in lieu of, in place of, in praise of, in prospect of, in reward of, in spite of, in view of, in want of, in the event of, in the middle of, in the name of, in the place of, in addition to, in answer to, in obedience to, in opposition to, in order to, in regard to, in accordance with, in common with, in comparison with, in company with, in connection with, in keeping with, next to, on account of, owing to, prior to, thanks to, with reference to, with regard to, with relation to, with respect to, with a view to. (see also Appendix 2, page 309)

Prepositions in Phrasal Verbs

When certain verbs and prepositions are combined, the unit acquires a new meaning. These verb-preposition combinations have several names:  two-part verbs, phrasal verbs, and verb idioms. The verb-preposition phrase is listed together in the dictionary with its own meaning.

She was brought up in the suburbs. (was raised)

Place of Prepositions in the Sentence

A preposition usually precedes its object:

I am voting for him.

We are talking about this novel

In interrogative sentences and subordinate clauses, the preposition may be at the end of the sentence, separated from its object. Compare the following sentences:

Whom are you voting for?

For whom are you voting?

This is a book (which) we were talking about.

This is a book about which we were talking

The first sentence in each pair is common in informal speech. In formal writing and business communications, keep the preposition and object together.

Prepositions of Time

In the morning/ afternoon/ evening; January, February, etc.; summer, winter, etc.; 1988; the 1930s; two weeks; two weeks' time; your free (spare) time; good/ bad weather

At six o 'clock, etc.; midnight; Easter/ Christmas; the weekend; the moment

On Saturday, Monday, etc.; Tuesday morning, etc.; 11-th January, etc.

For seven minutes, etc.; a long time; ages

Since June, 25-th, etc.; my last birthday; I came here

During* the film; the class; the war; my holidays; summer

* In a sentence containing a subject and a verb, during is replaced by while: While I was coming to you...

Problematic Prepositions of Movement and Place





used with verbs of movement: go, come, etc., even when the meaning is different: She goes to university.

not used with verbs of movement: I arrived at the house.

into/out of

in (=contained by/ inside)

used with changes of place: She walked out of the shop.

used with towns: I arrived in London. But: I arrived at London Airport. (=place)

across (=from one side to the other: She went across the promenade.)

by (=at the side of)

towards (=in the direction of: I'm going towards Cluj.)

Verbs with Obligatory Preposition:


argue, complain, doubt, fret, grieve, know, say, see, set, speak, talk, tell, think, worry, write.


aspire, crave, hanker, hunger, hunt, look, take, yearn.


clamour, defend, exclaim, fight, guard, indemnify, insure, murmur, mutter, protect, revolt, thunder, warn.


aim, assess, buy/sell (sth) at a price, call, drive, fire a shot, gaze, glance, knock, laugh, mock, point, puff, rage, rejoice, repine, rush, shoot, smile, sneer, stay, strike, throw, work.


begin, buy / sell (sth) by the pound etc, divide, finish, pass, profit, pull, swear, walk.


account, answer, ask, atone, bargain, call, care, cry, die, do, fall, fish, hope, lament, languish, leave, long, look, last, pay, pine, prepare, reach, sail, search, send, sigh, stand, start, strive, take, wait, wish.


absolve, banish, borrow, cry, derive, descent, differ, differentiate, distinguish, ensue, exact, excerpt, expect, extricate, flee, learn, manufacture, obtain, purchase, purge, receive, recover, refrain, select, spring, suffer, withdraw.


abound, believe, confide, consist, deal, employ (sb), entangle, hammer, insert, interfere, paint, succeed, write.


alter, break, change, divide, look, merge, pitch, put, thrust, turn.


accuse, acquit, allow, approve, avail (oneself), become, beware, complain, consist, cure, deprive, die, disapprove, dispose, doubt, dream, hear, learn, relieve, remind, speak, suspect, talk, think.


act, agree, bet, comment, concentrate, congratulate, count, depend, embark, gloat, inculcate, insist, jar, operate, rely, stumble, tattle, tell.


brood, cry, exult, muse, quarrel, rule, ruminate.


adapt, adhere, adjust, agree, allude, amount, announce, apologise, appeal, aspire, attach, attend, attest, belong, cling, come, compare, complain, consent, correspond, drink, entitle, explain, give, go, help (oneself), lead, listen, nod, object, oppose, point, prove, refer, reply, resort, respond, return, seem, set (to work), speak, stick, subscribe, succeed, take, tend.

agree, combine, compare, comply, connect, contend, contrast, correspond, deal, differ, disagree, do, fight, interfere, intermeddle, join, meet (~hardships), mingle, quarrel, quiver, reconcile, rhyme, shiver, side, sympathize, talk, tremble, trifle, vie.


act, bear, call, chance, depend, enter, fall, fix, force, frown, impose, insist, look, play (~one's feelings), rest, smile (about fate), trample.

Adjectives with Obligatory Preposition:

Addicted to, adequate for (smth.), adequate to (smb.), adverse to, affected by, amazed at, ambitious after, annoyed at, anxious about (smth.), anxious for (smb.), appalled by, apprehensive of (i.e. worried about), apt for, ashamed of, astonished at, averse to, bad at, beneficial to, bent on, busy with, capabale of, certain of, charmed at (smth.), charmed with (smb.), clever at (mathematics), compatible with, concerned about /with, concerned for (smb), connected with, consistent with, contended with, convenient for (smth.) convenient to (smb.), crazy about, cruel to, deficient in (smth.), delighted at, derogatory to, devoid of, dexterous at, diffident in, disappointed at, disgusted by (smth.), disgusted with (smb.), displeased at, dissatisfied with, doubtful of (smb.), dying for, eager for/about, earnest about, enraged by, essential for, excited at/over, fit for, frightened at, full of, good at, greedy of, hostile to (smb.), hungry for, identical to/with, ignorant of, immersed in (debts), immune against, immune from, impolite to, inadequate for smth/to smb, incensed at/with, inclined to /for, inconceivable to, independent of smb, indignant at/with, infatuate with, intent on, irritated at, offended at, opposite from, parallel to, paralyzed with, partial to, particular about, pleased at smth, prepared for, proficient in, prone to, resolved on, rude to, secure of, skillful at/in, slow at, solicitous about, sorry about smth, sorry for smb, subject to, suffering from, sufficient for, suited to, sure about smth, sure of smb, sympathetic to, tired with, true to, unfit for, unjust to, vexed at smth, vexed with smb

Controlled Practice

Supply the right preposition:

a. She is very fond ... children.

b. The new teacher is very patient... us.

c. We are leaving to Sinaia ... July, 3-rd.

d. I was interested ... nuclear Physics.

e. What are you afraid ...?

f. I'm proud ... your success.

g. She has never been successful ... anything she has done so far.

h. We are going there early ... the morning, yet don't expect us until late ... night.

i. The results depended ... the recent discovery.

j. A paleontologist is a person who has specialized ... paleontology.

Complete each sentence with the appropriate preposition:

a. I shut the door but left my key ...... it.

b. He strolled carelessly .... the road.

c. They arrived late .... the station.

d. She ran all the way .... the shop.

e. I went .... Paris last year.

f. I met her .... the rock concert.

g. The baby crawled .... the kitchen.

h. There's a strike .... our factory.

i. She has left. She must be .... work.

j. The money fell ... my pocket.

Put in the missing prepositions:

.... a Monday evening ...... September about eight o'clock, the ship "Voyager" sank. The ship had been sailing .... the end of September, when she left London, and was on her way .... England ... Australia. The only survivor was an Englishman called William Batty, who saved himself .... swimming two miles. He spent three years .... an island ... the middle of the Indian Ocean.

The island was quite small, and he could walk ...... the whole of it .... an hour. He climbed .... the one hill and put a flag ..... it .... a signal. ... night Batty slept .... a cave, where he felt quite .... home .... the day, he often fished ...... a home-made net. He cooked the fish .... a wood fire.

Batty stayed .... the island ..... almost three years. .... August 1934, a ship was sailing ... the island, and the captain saw Batty's signal. The sailors found a man .... a long blue coat .... dark hair and a beard, looking rather ...... a gorilla. Batty was soon home, and a few years later he finally arrived in Australia .... air .

Choose the nouns in column B which require the prepositions in column A and then translate into Romanian:















out of

one's breath








































































About; of









Read through the following and fill in the numbered blanks with a suitable preposition of time. Be careful, however, because in one or two cases no preposition is needed.

My parents met (1). the war: (2). August 1943 to be precise. My father was home (3). leave (4). the front, and he decided to spend the first week with his aunt in Liverpool. He hadn't seen her (5). several years, even though she had brought him up (6). his mother's death. Liverpool is not the most beautiful city in the world, but it can be very pleasant (7). summertime, especially early (8). the morning. (9). this particular morning, however, my father was in no mood to enjoy the sunrise over the Mersey. His train left Euston Station (10). time, at midnight, but (11). the time it got to Crewe, it was already three and a half hours (12). schedule. So he was in a bad mood and very tired (13). arrival at Lime Street Station. But something happened (14). minutes of his arrival that changed not only his mood but also his whole life. Feeling thirsty (15). his long journey, he decided to go and have a cup of tea in the station buffet. Typically, it was shut (16). that early hour. A notice on the door read "Opening hours (17). 7 a.m. (18). 5.30 p.m." He looked at the station clock: ten (19). seven. The buffet should be open (20). now, he thought. But, knowing station buffets, he realized that he could wait (21). 8 or even 9 o'clock before it opened. Suddenly he noticed a pretty girl sitting on a bench. She was pouring some hot liquid from a thermos flask into a cup. Being something of a lady's man, my father (at least this is what my mother told me (22). some years later) sat down and said "I've never seen such a pretty girl (23). all my life as you. And I haven't had a hot drink (24). last night. If you give me a drink of your tea, I'll marry you and look after you (25). the rest of my life!" Believe it or not, she smiled at him, gave him the tea, and . well, I wouldn't be here (26). now if the buffet hadn't been shut (27). that fateful day (28). August 1943.

Complete the following sentences. Choose a suitable ending from those marked a - p.

1. My brother is very conscious. a. from taking the exam

2. He was arrested. b. on her work

3. In Britain, having more than c. for his bad behavior

4. The police charged the man d. for robbing a bank

5. Most children are fond e. against going to the beach

6. The three men were found guilty f. for her today

7. Since the weather was so bad, we decided g. into going to the party

8. He apologised  h. of his big nose

9. Since Mrs Smith is ill, Mr Bond is deputizing i. of going to the circus

10. He didn't want her to go, so he tried to prevent her j. from leaving

11. As he'd missed so many lessons, he was discouraged k. about going to the dentist

12. She takes great pride l. with murder

13. He tried to coax her m. of fraud

14. He complimented her n. in her work

15. He was always very nervous o. on going out tonight

16. To tell you the truth, I'm not very keen p. against the law

Each of the words and phrases on the left can be associated with one of the prepositional phrases on the right. Try to match them up correctly.

1. recite a poem a. against the law

2. We're late!  b. at daybreak

3. What a mess!  c. at the same time

4. very fashionable d. behind schedule

5. I can't pay!  e. behind the times

6. You're too young! f. by degrees

7. illegal g. from memory

8. simultaneous h. in agony

9. no clothes i. in arrears

10.I haven't eaten j. behind bars

11. old-fashioned k. in disorder

12. It really hurts! l. in flames

13. very early m. in the nude

14. a prisoner n. in vogue

15. It's burning! o. on an empty stomach

16. gradually p. under age

Complete the sentences below with one of the following adjectives plus a preposition.

addicted, adequate, angry, aware, bad, capable, disqualified, distracted, eligible, expert, full, inspired, involved, jealous, notorious, sympathetic

a. Do you think politicians are . . telling lies?

b. Don't ask me to add up the bill. I'm really . . mathematics.

c. This piece of music was . . by Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.

d. The flat wasn't very big, but it was perfectly . . our needs.

e. Never become . . cigarettes!

f. Although he wouldn't admit it, everyone could see that he was . . his wife's success.

g. He was . . the race for taking drugs.

h. My neighbour is . . pruning fruit trees.

i. Who else was . . the crime?" the policeman asked the suspect.

j. He was nearly 16 before he first became . . the opposite sex.

k. He tried to work but was . . the noise from the traffic.

l. Life is . . surprises, isn't it?

m. Pop groups are . . smashing up hotel rooms.

n. The teacher was . . her students for not doing their homework.

o. Although they said they were . . our case, they were not prepared to support us officially.

p. Only unmarried women are . . membership.

The underlined expressions can be replaced by a time expression based on the word given in CAPITAL LETTERS. Supply the missing prepositions.

a. Most of her clothes are no longer fashionable. DATE

b. You really make me angry sometimes. TIMES

c. I hope to see you all again soon. LONG

d. You'll have to make your own bed in future. ON

e. Now and then we like to spend a weekend in the mountains. TIME

f. Autumn is the time when fruit like apples and pears are available. SEASON

g. The demonstration occupied the square for several hours until they were eventually driven away by the police. LENGTH

h. Wendy said that she would like to dance, and immediately there were twenty young men offering to dance with her. TIME

i. We'll be in UK, but only briefly. LONG

j. Nobody wanted to buy his car, so finally he had to give it away. END

k. Our daughter left home three years ago, and we don't know even now what happened to her. DAY

l. Please complete the rest of your assignments right away. DELAY

m. Your Aunt Kate is using the spare bedroom now. MOMENT

n. .so you'll have to sleep in the garden temporarily. BEING

o. I hope to see you next month. Until then, best of luck with your driving test. MEANTIME

p Please be very quiet. There is an examination going on. PROGRESS.

For each of the sentences below, write a new sentence as similar as possible in meaning to the original sentence using the word in CAPITAL LETTERS. We have given you the first word(s) of the new sentence.

a. Everyone has heard about the leaning tower of Pisa. FAMOUS


b. This passport can be used inmost countries. VALID

This . .

c. They didn't tell anyone they were getting married. SECRET

They . .

d. Are you and Jennifer related? RELATIVE

Is . .

e. Do you want a drink? CARE

Would . .

f. I lent my cousin $5. BORROWED

My cousin . .

g. A car crashed into a bus this morning. COLLIDED

A car . .

h. We didn't think she would pass the exam. DOUBTFUL

We . .

i. He found it hard to open the window. DIFFICULTY

He . ..

j. Pay no attention to what she says. NOTICE

Take . .

h. The painting is worth$30,000. VALUED

The . .

i. She doesn't find her present job very interesting. BORED

She . .

j. Your car is just like one I used to own. SIMILAR

I . .

k. He would never tell you a lie. INCAPABLE

He . .

l. When Mary was pregnant, all she wanted to eat was jelly. CRAVING

Mary . .

m. My boss seems to enjoy humiliating people. PLEASURE

My boss . .

n. I don't usually speak to strange men. HABIT

I . .

o. The interview panel thought that Sarah had a very good manner. IMPRESSION

Sarah . .

p. If you want to understand Yeats' s poetry, you need to study Irish history. KEY

Irish history . .

q. My best friend is someone I can really trust. CONFIDENCE

I . .

r. Henry really knew how to make people laugh. TALENT

Henry ..

s. My father says that the moon is made of green cheese. ACCORDING

The moon ...

t. I can recite Wordsworth's Prelude without looking at the book. MEMORY

I ..

u. We have run out of the items you want. STOCK

The items ..

v. The way to get the best out of me is to make me work very hard. PRESSURE

I ..

Complete the prepositional phrases below by choosing a word from the following list. Try to make up a sentence using each of the phrases.


account, addition, common, exchange, favour, odds, regard, respect, the exception, the expense, the sake, virtue

a. in . for g. with . to

b. in . with h. with . of

c. in . to i. for . of

d. in . of j. out of . for

e. at . with j. on . of

f. at . of k. by . of


a cost, agreement, aid, answer, behalf, compensation, good terms, means, peace, pity, reference, the accompaniment, the benefit, the compliments, the influence, work

a. at . on i. in . for

b. at . of j. on . of

c. at . with k. on . with

d. by . of l. out of . for

e. for . of m. to . of

f. in . of n. under . of

g. in . with o. with . to

h. in . to p. with . of

Complete the sentences below with one of the following nouns plus a preposition.

basis, campaign, choice, control, cruelty, excuse, fall, freedom, genius, grudge, knowledge, news, objection, opposite, strain, trouble

a. If you had a . . marrying for love or marrying for money, which would you do?

b. What is the . . "timid"? Is it "bold" or "brave"?

c. The African elephant will be extinct within 20 years if an international . . the ivory trade is not started immediately.

d. Do you have any . . my parking my car in front of your house?

e. The . . chewing gum is that it loses its flavour too quickly.

f. I know you have a cold, but that's no . . not doing your homework.

g. If you have to deal with overseas clients, a . . foreign languages is very useful.

h. Perhaps the three most important human rights are . . hunger, fear and persecution.

i. In our class, we can do as we like: our teacher has no . . us at all.

j. The RSPCA is concerned with prevention of . . animals.

k. Overweight people should not jog, because it puts a great . . their hearts.

l. Since the salmonella scare, there has been a considerable . . the consumption of eggs.

Progress Test 3

Which words in column A can combine with words in column B?

a gaggle of


a school of


a pride of


a swarm of


a colony of


a flock of


a pack of


a litter of







the left


a light heart






the mark








such circumstances












New Year!

















2. Translate into English:

a. As vrea sa calatoresc cu Orient- Express-ul.

b. Englezii sunt foarte politicosi.

c. El a devenit presedintele Frantei în 1998.

d. Acesta este cea mai buna piesa de teatru pe care am vazut-o.

e. Tamisa este un râu care trece prin Londra.

f. El a ajuns aseara si este cazat la Hotelul Hilton.

g. Francezii manânca mai multa pizza decât englezii.

h. El merge la scoala dimineata.

i. Statele Unite coopereaza cu Marea Britanie.

j. Ei au pornit sa escaladeze Alpii.

k. Pe de o parte nu-mi place grosolania ta si pe de alta parte mi-am terminat programul.

l. Ei s-au simtit foarte bine la mare anul trecut.

m. El este profesor la universitate.

n. Ei si-au dat mâna în final si au plecat.

o. Unde a avut loc accidentul?


a gaggle of geese, a pride of lions, a swarm of bees, a colony of locusts, a flock of birds , a pack of hounds, a litter of puppies, a school of fish.

on top, by land, with a light heart, beyond praise, to the left, in earnest, at war, off the mark, under such circumstances, without doubt,

a tall person, a tall tree, a high mountain, a high wall, a high building, a high price, loud music, heavy noise, heavy traffic, heavy smoker, strong wind, Happy New Year, Happy Anniversary, Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday.

a. I wish I travelled by the Orient Express.

b. The English are very polite.

c. He became (the) President of France in 2000.

d. This is the best play I have ever seen.

e. The Thames is a river which crosses London.

f. He arrived last night and is accommodated at the Hilton.

g. The French eat more pizza than the English.

h. He goes to school in the morning.

i. The United States and The United Kingdom co-operate.

j. They set off to climb the Alps.

k. On the one hand I don't like your rudeness and on the other my shift is over.

l. They had a very good time at the seaside last year.

m. He is a teacher at the university.

n. They shook hands and left.

o. Where did the accident happen?


1. a. 1 point + 1 point each x9 = 10 points

b 1 point + 1 point each x9 = 10 points

c 1 point + 0,60 point each x15 = 10 points

1 point + 0,60 point each x15 = 10 points

Divided by 4 = 10 points

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