Using the Wrong Preposition (Misused Forms 2) 4

Using the Wrong Preposition

Most common collocation mistakes which usually Non-native English learners commit.

using the prepositions

Deprive of, not from:

Don’t say: Nelson Mandela was deprived from his freedom.

Say: Nelson Mandela was deprived of his freedom.

Die of an illness, not from an illness:

Don’t say: Many people have died from Malaria.

Say: Many people have died of Malaria.

NOTE: People die of illness, of hunger, of thirst, of or from wounds; from overwork, by violence, by the sword, by pestilence, in battle, for their country, for a cause, through neglect, on the scaffold, at the stake

Different from, not than:

Don’t say: My book is really different than yours.

Say: My book is really different from yours.

Disappointed by, about or at, not from:

A- by/at/ about:

Don’t say: Phillipa was disappointed from the low mark she got in test.

Say: Phillipa was disappointed by/about/at the low marks she got in the test.

B- with/ in:

Don’t say: Jane was disappointed from her son.

Say: Jane was disappointed with/in her son.

NOTE: Before a person we use with or in, before a thing we use at, about or by and before a gerund we use at: Keith is very disappointed at not winning the prize.

Divide into parts, not in parts:

Don’t say: I divided the cake in four parts.

Say: I divided the cake into four parts.

NOTE: A thing can be divided in half or in two: Paul divided the apple in half (or in two).

No doubt (n) of or about, not for:

Don’t say: I’ve no doubt for his ability.

Say: I’ve no doubt of/about his ability.

NOTE: Doubtful of: I’m doubtful of his ability to pass.

Dressed in, not with:

Don’t say: The woman was dressed with black.

Say: The woman was dressed with black.

NOTE: The woman was in black is also right.

Exception to, not of:

Don’t say: This is an exception of rules.

Say: this is an exception to rules.

NOTE: We say with the exception of: She like all her subjects with the exception of physics.

Exchange for, not by:

Don’t say: He exchanged his collection of match boxes by some foreign stamps.

Say:  He exchanges his collection of matchboxes for some foreign stamps.

NOTE: In exchange for: He gave them his old car in exchange for a new one.

Fail in, not from:

Don’t say: he failed from maths last year.

Say: He failed in maths last year.

Full of, not with or from:

Don’t say: The jar was full with/from oil.

Say: The jar was full of oil.

NOTE: Fill takes with: jane filled the glass with water.

4 thoughts on “Using the Wrong Preposition (Misused Forms 2)

  1. sara Apr 27,2009 9:05 am

    it seems there is a little mistake

    Dressed in, not with:

    Don’t say: The woman was dressed with black.

    Say: The woman was dressed with black.

  2. M.J Mardan Apr 28,2009 1:53 pm

    Thanks Sara! Nice notification!

  3. Nguyen Ngoc Dien Aug 20,2009 10:14 am

    There should be: She likes all her subjects with the exception of physics. (not “like”)

  4. Tom Jul 4,2012 11:36 pm

    Most of the above is good advice, but since this is still viewable by English learners why not correct the mistakes to help them? Bad examples don’t help people develop good habits, do they?
    1. Always begin sentences with a capital letter.
    2. ‘Failed in maths’ is correct in British English but if you were an expert in English perhaps you would add that in American English (important for business with the largest world economy) it would be ‘failed math’ or ‘failed mathematics’.
    3. ‘Exception to rules’ above should be ‘exception to the rules.’
    4. ‘Matchboxes’ should be ‘match boxes’. It was changed to an erroneous form for the correction! Also, changing something that is irrelevant to the point (‘exchanged’ to ‘exchanges’) will be confusing to people trying to learn from your example.
    5. ‘Died from (disease name)’ is common and natural.
    6. “Dressed with black” is still wrong, as the poster acknowledged but didn’t bother fixing. “Dressed in black” is correct.
    Finally, what evidence from what study supports that these are the ‘most common collocation mistakes’?
    Good luck, English learners.

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