Most teachers of English as a second or a foreign language consider prepositions as the most difficult to master. It is no wonder why only few books comprehensively discuss them. In this post, I will introduce you to a table of prepositions made by two experts of the field (Murcia and Freeman, 2010).
This table will allow learners to familiarize these short yet controversial words in the English lexicon. It is impossible to memorize all their functions, so it is advisable that students get the real experience with these grammatical items through reading a wide range of text and observing how native or fluent speakers use them in their speeches.
Considering IELTS writing, reading, speaking, listening and reading skills, this table will help candidates improve their band score. Prepositions may be small words, but they could greatly change a sentence’s meaning.
In IELTS Speaking and IELTS Writing, most examiners get annoyed with the incorrect use of prepositions. Showing a good command with prepositions would lighten up an examiner’s day and makes his or her assessment task easier. In IELTS Writing, especially, accurate and sophisticated use of prepositions would definitely increase the band score.
|Prep.||Space||Time||Degree||Other (includes idiomatic usages)|
|at||point/intersect: meet at the cornertarget:Look at John./Throw the stone at the wall.general area: Meet me at the theater.||We met at 1:00.It rains at night there.||Water freezes at 0°C.||He works at keeping in shape.She’s good at dancing.|
|about||all around: He ran about the yard.||approx: about 1:00||approx:about $1about 70 degrees||concerning: a book about mathematics|
|above||higher than: above the picture (on the wall)||above $5above freezing point.above average||above suspicionabove reproach|
|against||contact: to lean against the wall||conflict: to work against the clock||conflict: two against four||internal: against one’s willexternal: against all odds|
|around||state: The fence is around the house.action: The children run around the yard.||approx: around 1:00||approx: around $2around 4 miles|
|before||in front of: before the mastHe stood before us.||earlier than: before 1960before the accident|
|below||lower than: below the surface||below zero, below average|
|between||at an intermediate point in relation to two entities: between the house and the street||between 1 and 2 o’clock||between 100 and 110 lbs.||between you and me|
|by||nearness: chair by the desk||no later than: by 5 P.M.||reduplication- (gradual increase): little by little; inch by inch degree of failure: miss the target by a mile; miss the rain by 3 minutes||without help: do by oneself|
|for||goal: set out for Alaskadistance: for 7 miles||duration: for 7 years||exchange: buy for $4||reason: California is famous for its wines.goal/purpose: fish for trout|
|from||a starting point: We traveled from N.Y. to L.A.origin: man from New York||work from 9 to 5||from 60 to 80 degreesfrom 5 to 7 dollars||source: paper is made from woodcause: wet from the rain|
|in||enclosure: The man is in the room.||in a period: WW II ended in 1945.future appt.: Come in 10 minutes.||currency: Pay me in dollars.language: Write/say it in English.|
|of||names of geog. loc. or institutions: the city of N.Y.the state of Texasthe Univ. of Calif.||before: a quarter of ten||fraction, portion: one of the boys||posses./assoc.: a friend of minesource: a table made of wood|
|on||contact: on the wallalong: on the Po; I live on this street.||day,date: on Sundayon Nov. 9th||communication: on the radio; on TV/the tellyconcerning: a book on magic; a lecture on modern art|
|over||state of being above (with or without contact): carry a sweater over his shoulder; the roof over our headsaction above: jump over the fence||spanning time: over the weekend||more than: over an hourover $2over 0°C||communication: over the radion, TV|
|through||penetrate: through the window; through the forest||duration: through the years||endurance: through thick and thin|
|to||direction: go to the movies||until: work from 9 to 5before: a quarter to eleven||He is wise to that extent./He is wise to such an extent that||accompany: dance to the music|
|toward(s)||in the direction of: walk toward the wall||toward nothing||the temperature moved steadily toward 0°C||toward a lasting peace|
|under||below (state): be under the housebelow (action); crawl under the house||less than: in under an hour||under $1under 10 menunder 70 degrees||condition: under duress (stress)|
|with||alongside, near: even with the wall||together: He grew wiser with the years.He rises with the chickens.||equal standing or ability: rank with the best; run with the fastest||in regard to: pleased with the giftmanner: spoke with ease|
Now test your knowledge. Read the article below and fill in each blank with the appropriate preposition.
Note: not all answers are found in the table, so try to use your “second language intuition” in answering. You may also do some research or consultation with a native speaker/expert.
(RNS) Religiosity is on the decline ___ (1) the U.S. and atheism is on the rise, according to a new worldwide poll.
The poll, called “The Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism,” found that the number ___ (2) Americans who say they are “religious” dropped ___ (3) 73 percent ___ (4) 2005 (the last time the poll was conducted) to 60 percent. At the same time, the number ___ (5) Americans who say they are atheists rose, ___ (6) 1 percent to 5 percent.
The poll was conducted by WIN-Gallup International and is based ___ (7) interviews ___ (8) 50,000 people ___ (9) 57 countries and five continents. Participants were asked, “Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious person, or a convinced atheist?”
The seven years ___ (10) the polls is notable because 2005 saw the publication of “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris, the first in a wave of best-selling books on atheism by Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and other so-called “New Atheists.”
“The obvious implication is that this is a manifestation of the New Atheism movement,” said Ryan Cragun, a University of Tampa sociologist ___ (11) religion who studies American and global atheism.
Still, Cragun does not believe the poll shows more people are becoming atheists, but rather that more people are willing to identify as atheists.
“___ (12) a very long time, religiosity has been a central characteristic of the American identity,” he said. “But what this suggests is that is changing and people are feeling less inclined to identify as religious to comply ___ (13) what it means to be a good person ___ (14) the U.S.”
Another possible factor may be the number ___ (15) atheists within organized efforts by American atheist groups to encourage those who do not believe in God to say so publicly. The Out Campaign, a project ___ (16) the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, was launched in 2007 and has since been endorsed by several national atheist groups.
The current poll confirms a declining religiosity — both at home and abroad — that’s been detected in other polls. The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey found that 15 percent of Americans said they have no religion — different from being a “confirmed atheist,” but nonetheless up from 8 percent ___ (17) 1990.
Barry Kosmin, the principal investigator for the ARIS report, said he’s skeptical of the new study.
“The U.S. trends are what we have found and would expect, but the actual numbers are peculiar to say the least,” he said. “The drops in religiosity seem too sharp for the time period — people just don’t change their beliefs that quickly. Most of the trend away ___ (18) religion has demographic causes and demography moves ‘glacially.’”
Specifically, he points ___ (19) the poll’s finding that Vietnam, while showing a sharp 23 percent drop in religiosity since 2005, also shows no atheists. “Eight million Communist Party members but zero atheists?” he said. “That statistic makes me very doubtful ___ (20) the accuracy of the survey overall and some of the international comparisons.”
Note: You should take advantage of the link above to the Huffington Post. It contains great articles with which you can develop English language reading skills and widen your vocabulary.
in of from in of
from on with from between
of for with in of
of in from to of
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