An Online Catalogue of English Grammar Exercises

 Prepositions and prepositional phrases and phrasal verbs. 

 (for Odalys Rabelo Vazquez in Cuba)

 What you need to know:

 Prepositions in English are to help you to see in your mind’s eye.

If you have something in your mind, it means that you are thinking about it.  Your mind is like a box with something inside it.  You are remembering to do something, for example.

If you have something on your mind, then you are worried, your mind is like a box with something on top of it, pressing down.

These are both idiomatic expressions we use to make our language more colourful and interesting.

Some prepositions are phrases of more than one word, for example, you have to say ‘on top of’, as in ‘I feel on top of the world’, which means you feel really happy!  You can use ‘because of’ to mean ‘I’m very happy because of my new job’.

The most important thing to remember is that many verbs are followed by prepositions e.g. want to, listen to, have to,

There are different reasons: ‘want to’ is followed by verb, e.g. ‘I want to have lunch now’ but ‘listen to’ is followed by a noun not a verb e.g. ‘I like listening to pop music.’

With some verbs you can change the preposition, which changes the meaning e.g. you can work for a company, work under a boss, work with colleagues in an office, work in a factory, work outside (not in a building but doing your job away from your place of work), you can work on a report, you can work to a time table, you can work from home (rather than an office), you can work in spite of the fact that you don’t need the money - so  you need to notice and learn them in context.

Practice Exercises:

Which is correct:


1.      What would you do if saw a notice which said ‘The station is closed for urgent repairs?’ 

2.    ‘I would go home and call the office and say I couldn’t come in to work today.’

3.    ‘Isn’t there another way to get to work?’

4.    By bus, but it would take too long because of the traffic on the roads.’

5.     ‘I think you live in the wrong place.’

They are all correct!

 Now you try:

1.      ‘Our neighbours are crazy!  They say they live…. a haunted house; but they say also they don’t believe…..ghosts!

2.    But they do hear noises.  I don’t know why they put up …!’

3.    ‘I imagine they can’t afford ….sell their home.  Ghosts have a bad reputation but they can’t do you any harm.  You can see…….. them!’

4.    ‘I couldn’t sleep if I had…listen….them moaning and crying.’

5.     ‘Have the neighbours tried to take photographs…..them?’

6.    ‘How can you think….something like that?’

7.     ‘Why not? It’s good…  Think….the tv right and the newspaper rights. 

8.    That would be the end ……their financial problems!’

9.    ‘You think some-one would be prepared….pay … a haunted house?’

10.‘It’s better … watching television!’




1. live in….believe in…

2. put up with + noun/pronoun

3. can’t afford to + verb

4. have to + verb; listen to +noun or pronoun

5. to take photographs of something or some-one or pronoun.

6. think of or think about + pronoun.

7. good for business; think of.

8. to be the end of something

9. to be prepared to pay for + noun/pronoun

10. better than + Verb+ing.






Read The A - Z of English Grammar & Usage for the rules.

click here to go back

© 1996 - 2009