Idioms and Prepositions

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Idioms and Prepositions

OVERVIEW

You may be wondering, “What exactly is an idiom?”  An IDIOM is any expression whose meaning is not predictable based on the meanings of its individual words.   (For example, “under the weather” means ill.)  There are primarily three types of idiom errors: IDIOMATIC USE OF PREPOSITIONS, GERUNDS VS. INFINITIVES, and CORRELATIVE USAGE.

 

IDIOMATIC USE OF PREPOSITIONS

In English, as in many other languages, the use of prepositions is sometimes difficult because it is something that must be learned and then memorized.  There are no specific rules that dictate which preposition must follow a certain verb, adjective, or noun.

 

Example:

In appreciation ____ her thirty years of service, the school gave a dinner in her honor.

 

In this case, which preposition would best complete the sentence?

 

In some instances, questions on the test will include a preposition when it is not necessary.

 

Example:

They decided to fill up the gas tank before getting on the freeway.

 

In this sentence, the word up is unnecessary and incorrect.

 

When solving idiom questions, you have to determine what sounds best based on your knowledge of idiomatic English.  One way to increase your chances of doing well is by checking each error identification problem for underlined prepositions.  If the preposition sounds strange or seems redundant, then it is likely an idiom error.

 

 

LIST OF COMMONLY TESTED VERB/ PREPOSITION COMBINATION IDIOMS

 

(This is only a partial list.  There are thousands of English idioms.  Investigate books of idioms and online resources for a more complete list.)

 

accuse of care about differ over object to stop from
agree to care for discriminate against participate in substitute for
agree with compare to distinguish from pray for succeed in
agree on compare with dream of prefer to thank for
apologize for complain about dream about prevent from vote for
apply to contribute to escape from prohibit from vote on
apply for count on excuse for protect from wait for
approve of decide on forget about provide with wait on
argue with depend on forgive for recover from work on
argue about differ about hide from rely on work with
believe in differ from hope for rescue from worry about
blame for differ with insist so stare at  

 

 

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