Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Secrets to Using Prepositions in English

(Reblogged from: “Real Life English”  http://reallifebh.com/secrets-to-using-prepositions-in-english)

I’m sure you all probably know that the book is ON the table, but do you know exactly why we say “on” instead of ABOVE, or OVER, or another of the hundreds of prepositions that exist in English?

How to use ON

ON is used when something is making contact with a surface.
I live ON First street (my house is making contact with the street)
§  He has a green shirt ON (the shirt is making contact with my skin)
§  I saw it ON tv (the images are viewed on the surface of the television)
ON is also used for days; on Monday, On Friday, On the 20th of December, On my holiday etc.

How to use IN
IN is used to describe that something is physically INSIDE some kind of barrier or border
§  I used to live IN Australia (inside the Australian border)
§  I’m stuck IN traffic (inside the barrier of traffic)
§  I read it IN the newspaper (inside the closed paper)
*we use ON for pages
IN is also used with months and years; in December, in 2011

How to use AT
AT is often used to describe a place in general. This is by using the name of the place, not specifying your exact location.
§  He is AT the bar drinking a beer (the place in general)
§  I found some money ON the ground AT the park (ground=surface, park=place)
§  I’m going to have lunch AT my grandma’s house today (the place)
AT is also used for talking about the time; I have an appointment at 2 o’clock.

 Opposite prepositions 

How to Use Verbs with Prepositions
We are not going to talk about figurative expressions, instead we are going to focus on the literal way to use verbs with prepositions.
For example, imagine you are holding a cup of water IN your hand and suddenly, it falls. How would you describe that situation?
Most English learners, will just say “the cup fell,” which is absolutely correct. But if you wanted to say this more specifically, you can start to apply the use of opposite prepositions with the verb. I would say, “the cup fell OUT of my hand.” We say OUT because the original location of the cup was IN your hand, opposite preposition.

Let me show you how to use this in a real situation:
1. You are riding a bike and wearing a hat. Because of the wind, your hat leaves your head. 
Original location – On my head
The action
 – The wind BLOWS
“The wind blew my hat off my head”
2. You are drinking some water and holding the cup in your hand. Suddenly, someone knocks you and the cup falls.
Original location – IN your hand
The action-
 To knock
“Some guy knocked the cup out of my hand”
3. You are at a park and there is a concert happening. You don’t want to walk through the park because you will disturb the show.
Original motion- Through
The action- Walk
“I decided to walk around the concert”
Around in this case means that you are avoiding the concert.
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