Advanced Grammar for IELTS: Dependent prepositions – Diagnose Test, Grammar Explanation & Practice Exercises
A DIAGNOSTIC TEST: Dependent prepositions
Thirteen of these sentences contain mistakes. Tick (✓) the correct sentences, then find and correct the mistakes.
The primary purpose of the police is to protect people of criminals. …….from………
1 The supervisor said I shouldn’t have shouted at the client so I had to apologise to.
2 I never really know whether I should insist on sit at the top table or not.
3 The waiter was quite amazed at our eating everything so quickly.
4 All my friends agree to the government’s new policy on third world debt.
5 Sylvia was astonished at that her boyfriend had behaved so atrociously.
6 You know I’m really not that interested in if he’s coming with us or not.
7 David’s quarrelled his wife over selling the house.
8 Please make an effort. The children are really depending on you their party costumes.
9 Can you tell us if the minister has stopped the by-pass from going ahead?
10 I blame my parents for my bad habits.
11 The old persons’ home will provide Sam for a room.
12 Don’t worry, the guide’s going to fully explain me all the details.
13 He succeeded in winning the first round but I’m afraid he didn’t have any success in beating his second opponent.
14 The auditors initially issued a demand for full repayment but then changed their minds and simply demanded for a token contribution.
15 Lack of nutrients caused serious damage to growing.
16 Wendy’s sarcastic comments made me curious about her motives.
17 We were absolutely furious by their outrageous prices.
18 I don’t mind driving but I’m really scared by flying.
19 I’d prefer somewhere else; I’m not too keen on Thai food.
20 Apparently Donna’s angry with her boss; he’s given her the late shift yet again.
B GRAMMAR EXPLANATION: Dependent prepositions
In English there are many words which are used with particular prepositions. Because the choice of preposition depends on the word and meaning, the prepositions we use are called dependent prepositions. For example, we accuse someone of a crime, we don’t accuse someone at a crime, by a crime or for a crime.
There are many verbs which combine with particular prepositions. Some of these are ‘prepositional verbs’ (e. g. quarrel with someone) and are explained in detail in unit: Multi-word verbs. Other verbs follow different patterns (e.g. accuse someone of a crime) which are explained here. There are also many nouns and adjectives which are followed by particular prepositions.
- GENERAL RULES
1A. Preposition + object
Prepositions after verbs, nouns and adjectives always have an object. The object can be a noun, pronoun or verb.
I apologised to my boss /her/ the managing director.
I apologised for arriving late.
Note that to can be a preposition.
1B. Preposition + -ing form
If the object of a preposition is a verb, it must be an -ing form:
X She succeeded in win the race.
✓ She succeeded in winning the race.
Note: The -ing form can have its own subject. This is a noun phrase or an object pronoun:
I’m looking forward to my wife returning.
Dad insisted on us apologising.
In formal English we can use possessives rather than nouns or pronouns.
The judge granted bail as she felt there was no risk of the defendant’s absconding.
The detective insisted on our leaving the crime scene.
1C. Preposition or to + infinitive
Many adjectives describing feelings and emotions can be followed by a preposition or to + infinitive
We were annoyed at finding our places taken. He’s keen on learning archery.
We were annoyed to find our places taken. He’s keen to learn archery.
Some verbs can also be followed by either a preposition or to + infinitive, but there may be a change of meaning:
They don’t agree with the government’s policy. (= They have a different opinion.)
I agreed to help him fill out the forms. (= I said that I was willing to …)
1D. Preposition or that clause
Many of the words which describe what we say, think or feel are followed by a preposition + -ing form. Some of these words can also be followed by a that clause.
The judge insisted on the jury disregarding the doctor’s testimony.
The judge insisted that the jury disregard the doctor’s testimony.
Note: But prepositions cannot be followed by a that clause except with the expression the fact that:
X My parents disapproved of that my brother left school at sixteen.
✓ My parents disapproved of the fact that my brother left school at sixteen.
1E. Prepositions + whether
We do not use if after prepositions, we use whether:
X I’m afraid I wasn’t aware of if she was watching me or not.
✓ I’m afraid I wasn’t aware of whether she was watching me or not.
- VERB + PREPOSITION PATTERNS
2A. Prepositional verbs
Some verbs combine with a preposition either to create a new meaning or to link a verb with an object. These verbs are called prepositional verbs.
They decided to look into the problem. (= to investigate it)
Tamsin complained about the bill.
She apologised for her outburst.
Some prepositional verbs also use an extra preposition before an indirect object, e.g. to the manager. Most of these are reporting verbs :
Tamsin complained to the manager about the bill.
She apologised to the committee for her outburst.
2B. Verb + object + preposition + -ing form
We use object + preposition + -ing form after particular verbs to link the verb with the person it affects and the action which is connected to it:
The police accused her of stealing
His sense of duty prevented him from leaving
These verbs can be made passive:
She was accused of stealing (by the police).
He was prevented from leaving (by his sense of duty).
2C. Verb + direct object + preposition + indirect object
We can use direct object + preposition + indirect object after particular verbs to link the verb with two objects:
The tour guide discussed the day’s schedule with us
Henry explained it to me very slowly.
With some verbs we can change the order of the objects, but in this case different prepositions are used:
I blame our schools for the poor standard of education. (= blame somebody for something)
I blame the poor standard of education on our schools. (= blame something on somebody)
The King of Sweden presented the physicist with the Nobel prize. (= present somebody with something)
The King of Sweden presented the Nobel prize to the physicist. (= present something to somebody)
Note: These verbs can be made passive. But only the direct object (the one which immediately follows the active verb) can become the subject of the passive verb:
My teacher explained it to me ==>
X I was explained it by my teacher. ✓ It was explained to me (by my teacher).
Note: Unlike some verbs used with two objects (e.g. give), with the above verbs we cannot
omit the preposition:
He gave it to me. He gave me it.
X He explained me it. X He explained it me. ✓ He explained it to me.
X He discussed us it. X He discussed it us. ✓ He discussed it with us.
- NOUN + PREPOSITION
3A. Noun/verb + preposition
Where a noun is related to a prepositional verb, the noun often takes the same preposition:
He succeeded in winning the Palme d’Or. (= to succeed in something)
We congratulated him on his success in winning the Palme d’Or. (= a success in something)
3B. Noun only + preposition
But some nouns followed by a preposition are related to verbs which do not take a preposition)
The members had a discussion about the subscription charges. (= a discussion about something)
We discussed the subscription charges (= to discuss something)
X We discussed about the subscription charges.
Here are examples of other verbs/nouns like this:
to demand something / a demand for something
to fear something/ a fear of something
3C. Noun + preposition + noun
The preposition is usually followed by an -ing form or noun. But there are some noun + preposition forms which can only be followed by a noun.
X The court issued a demand for repaying of the debt.
✓ The court issued a demand for repayment of the debt.
- ADJECTIVE/ PARTICIPLE + PREPOSITION
4A. Adjective/ noun + preposition
Where an adjective is related to a noun or verb which takes a preposition, the adjective usually takes the same preposition.
I expressed my gratitude for their assistance. I was grateful for their assistance.
We depend on his generosity. We are dependent on his generosity.
4B. Adjective + preposition
A lot of adjectives describing feelings and opinions have dependent prepositions:
My grandfather’s very keen on trout fishing.
Stockbrokers are becoming increasingly worried about the news from New York.
Note: Some of these adjectives are formed from verb participles, e.g. interested, bored, scared. We use participles + by + agent in passive sentences, e.g. I was really scared by that film. Although these adjectives look like participles, they work differently and cannot always be followed with by:
X I am scared by horror films. ✓ I am scared of horror films.
X He is interested by philosophy. ✓ He is interested in philosophy.
4C. Preposition choice after participles
In some cases the participle form takes different prepositions depending on the meaning, for example:
|made by (+ the person/company/process which produced it)
made for (+ its purpose)
made from (+ original material which has been transformed)
made of (+ original material which is still visible)
WORD LIST: DEPENDENT PREPOSITION PATTERNS
(Below, sb = somebody and sth = something.)
5A. Prepositional verb + object + preposition + object
|agree about sth with sb
agree with sb about / over sth
apologise to sb for sth
complain about sth to sb
complain to sb about sth
|depend on sb/ sth for sth
disagree with sb about/ over sth
quarrel with sb about/ over sth
rely on sb / sth for sth
5A. Verb + direct object + preposition + indirect object
(* These verbs can also follow the pattern: verb + direct object + preposition + –ing form.)
|accuse sb of sth *
acquit sb of sth
advise sb against sth*
advise sb of sth
aim sth at sb
arrest sb for sth *
beat sb at sth*
blame sb for sth *
blame sth on sb
bother sb with sth
compensate sb for sth*
congratulate sb for sth*
congratulate sb on sth*
convict sb of sth*
convince sb of sth
criticise sb for sth
cure sb of sth
|deprive sb of sth
describe sth to sb
discuss sth with sb
explain sth to sb
help sb with sth
lend sth to sb
make sth for sb
persuade sb of sth
praise sb for sth*
present sb with sth
present sth to sb
prevent sb from -ing
protect sb from sth
provide sb with sth
provide sth for sb
reassure sb of sth
release sb from sth
rescue sb from sth
|rid sb of sth
rob sb of sth
save sb/ sth from sth
starve sb of sth
steal sth from sb
stop sb from -ing
strip sb of sth
supply sb with sth
supply sth for / to sb
suspect sb of sth
throw sth at sb (= in order to hit them)
throw sth to sb (= in order for them to catch it)
warn sb about/against sth *
welcome sb to sth
5C. Noun + preposition + noun /-ing form
(* These nouns can only follow the pattern: noun + preposition + noun.)
|advantage of / in
anger about/ at
danger of/ in
decrease of (+ quantity)
delay of (+ duration)
demand for *
increase of (+ quantity)
matter with *
pleasure of/ in
problem of / in
purpose of / in
5D. Adjective + preposition
(* These adjectives can also be followed by to + infinitive.)
amazed at / by
angry, annoyed*. furious *
at/ about (+ the cause of
angry, annoyed, furious with
(+ the person who caused
anxious about (= feel nervous/worried about
anxious * for (= waiting
impatiently for sth)
astonished at/ by
available for (+ purpose)
available to (+ person)
bad/ good at (= ability)
badlgood for (= effect on
bad/ good to (= behaviour
towards/treatment of the
concerned about (= worried
concerned with (= involved
different than (US English)
disgusted with/ at
engaged* in (= working
engaged to (= promised to
fed up with
glad for (= pleased for sb)
glad of (= grateful for sth)
good at/ for / to ( => bad)
grateful for (+ the cause of
grateful to (+ the person
who caused this feeling)
keen * on
made by (+ the
made for (+ its purpose)
made from (+ original
material which has been
|made of (+ original material
which is still visible)
(+ something general,
e.g. your recovery/the
pleased with (+ something
personal, e.g. my exam
results/my new jacket)
ready * for
sorry * about (+ the cause of
sorry for (+ the person you
feel sympathy towards)
upset about/ by/ over (+ the
cause of this feeling)
upset with (+ the person
who caused this feeling)
C PRACTICE EXERCISE
Q 1. Match the sentence beginnings (l-10) with the endings (A-J).
|1. Although I had a lot of questions I was afraid …
2. The passengers’ relatives were anxious …
3. It’s not a matter …
4. We have to face the possibility …
5. My parents expressed surprise …
6. We tend to be scared …
7. As I stepped onto the boat I suddenly felt anxious …
8. The pupils were scared …
9. The committee sees no problem …
10. Ever since that experience at the zoo she’s been afraid …
|A. ……. of large animals.
B. ……. at the fact that I’d finally found a job.
C. ……. of whether you want to do it or not, it’s an order.
D. ……. that I would make them do the test again.
E. ……. to ask them.
F. ……. in approving your application for planning permission.
G. ……. of things we know little about.
H. …….for news of their loved ones.
I. ……. about the lack of life jackets.
J. ……. of them not getting here in time.
Complete the sentences with appropriate verbs and prepositions from the boxes. Use each verb only once. Some of the prepositions will be needed more than once. Note that you will need two prepositions in numbers 10- 15.
|verbs||accuse agree apologise blame convince cure depend disagree explain present prevent quarrel rely stop supply|
|prepositions||about for from to of on over with|
- Somehow I managed to __________my parents_________ my innocence.
- The subcontractors should be able to ________ you ________ spare parts.
- The immigration authorities couldn’t________ the refugees________ entering the country.
- Do you honestly think this faith healer will manage to________ him________ his stutter?
- The Chief Constable is going to________ Harold________ this year’s award for bravery.
- In my opinion we can________ today’s unemployment problem________ the previous government.
- I’m rather confused; you’d better ________ that procedure________ me again.
- Don’t take it out on me; I’ve never tried to ________ you ________ doing what you felt was right.
- I wouldn’t dare ________ him________ stealing, although I certainly don’t trust him.
- Congress is bound to________ the President________ the increase in federal taxes.
- I absolutely refuse to________ them________ my comments; they were completely justified.
- Since the accident he’s had to________ his mother________ everything.
- I’m happy to report that the unions________ us________ the need for wage controls next year.
- In the event of a power cut you will have to________ the emergency generator ________ electricity.
- Look, just give me the car keys; I don’t want to________ you ________ this any longer.
Some of these sentences contain grammatical mistakes. Tick (✓) the correct sentences, then find and correct the mistakes.
0 He was accused by fraud of the newspapers.
==> He was accused by fraud of the newspapers
1 The firing squad aimed at the condemned man their rifles.
2 Our accountant provided us with the end of year accounts.
3 The brilliant architect presented us to her imaginative proposals.
4 My uncle blames on his hearing problems old age.
5 The Prime Minister disagreed with the cabinet over the new welfare scheme.
6 Do you agree about her with the corporate sponsorship deal?
7 The crippled patient was cured of the doctor’s radical new treatment of arthritis.
8 Why won’t you even discuss her with it?
9 The plane was saved from disaster by the quick thinking of the crew members.
10 Gerald was accused of the court by lying under oath.
Q 4. Complete the newspaper headlines with appropriate prepositions.
- Soap star gives no reason ___________ divorce
- Scientists predict success_________ battle against cancer.
- Fear __________ sunburn keeps children indoors.
- Ministry announce solution ___________traffic jam nightmares
- Possibility__________ manned journey to Saturn say NASA
- Film star denies attack _________ photographer.
- Renewed prospect_________ peace at UN talks
- Palace issues apology_________ misleading statement
- Little hope___________ survivors in avalanche horror
- Ministers question effect____________ violence in Hollywood films
- Sequel ______________ ‘titanic’ bombs at box office
- Congressman questioned over relationship ____________big business
- PM gives job_________ drugs tsar to ex police chief
- New wonder drug reduces craving __________ Nicotine.
- Travel companies fail to provide insurance _________ airport delays
- New way __________ filing tax returns provokes anger in city
- What’s the matter______________ our teams? Ask soccer supremos
- Government deny belief___________ quick fix solutions
- Task____________ cleaning up beaches given to volunteers
- Bank announces shock increase ___________ inflation figures
For each of the sentences below, write a new sentence as similar as possible in meaning to the original sentence, but using the words given. The words must not be altered in any way.
0 She finds spiders very frightening.
scared ………She is very scared of spiders………….
1 Isaac was getting more and more frustrated by his lack of progress.
2 They say the terrorists carried out the atrocities.
3 My students find our film and photography course interesting.
4 The public rarely feels sympathy towards politicians caught behaving badly.
5 We found the quality of her singing voice quite astonishing.
6 I don’t think he likes spicy food very much.
7 Excessive consumption of fried food can have a bad effect on the arteries.
8 I’m afraid I haven’t got much change at the moment.
9 Our neighbour treats her cats remarkably well.
10 He owes his fame to his performance in Othello at the National Theatre.
11 I have every confidence in his abilities.
12 Thank you for your swift response to my enquiry.
13 My two brothers are not at all like me.
14 The new legislation covers deregulation of the airline industry.
15 I would love to know how the magician did his tricks.
16 My colleague really likes all these new electronic gadgets.
17 The daily swim seems to be beneficial to his health.
18 The research team is working on a brand new project.
19 Unfortunately we don’t really expect them to reach the final round.
20 Inspector Morse believes the blind man committed the murder.
Complete the crossword using the missing words from these sentences.
- My client will be able to give__________ to your queries at this afternoon’s press conference.
- I was furious__________ the teachers for allowing such bullying to carry on unchecked.
- Since the stroke Lucy has__________ on her children for all her basic needs.
- The class had a stimulating discussion__________ the refugee crisis.
- I feel my main job will be to __________ the board of the need for substantial investment.
- We regret to announce that this evening’s flight will be subject to a__________ of fifty minutes.
- The committee__________ her for the high standard of her application.
- We try to__________ products for the more discerning customer.
- Our paper is made__________ 100 per cent recycled pulp.
- We felt that such a rude response was not__________ of a person in his privileged position.
- There will be no problem __________ you with all the spare parts you require.
- I really can’t worry about __________ he has personal problems or not.
- The National Health Service seems unable to cope with the increasing__________ for high-tech procedures.
- The manager insisted__________ we leave immediately.
- The trust is going to__________ him with a substantial annual income.
- The beach was__________ with happy holidaymakers enjoying the sunshine.
- I look forward to__________ the new sales manager next month.
- Findler and Outhwaite have agreed__________ represent us at the pre-trial hearing.
- We crowded around the telephone as we were all__________ for news of my father’s progress.
- I blame the government__________ not recognising the problem soon enough.
D ANSWER KEY FOR DIAGNOSTIC TEST
- apologise to ==> apologise to her/him
- sit ==> sitting
- to ==> with
- astonished-at that her boyfriend had behaved ==> astonished that her boyfriend had behaved/astonished at her boyfriend having behaved
- if ==> whether
- quarrelled-his-wife ==> quarrelled with his wife
- on you their-party-costumes ==> on you for their party costumes.
- provide-Sam for a-room ==> provide Sam with a room/provide a room for Sam
- me on the details ==> all the details to me.
- demanded for ==> demanded
- growing ==> growth
- furious by ==> furious at/about
- scared by ==> scared of
E ANSWER KEY FOR PRACTICE EXERCISE
- E 2. H 3. C 4. J 5. B
- C 7. I 8. D 9. F 10. A
- convince, of
- supply, with
- prevent/stop, from
- cure, of
- present, with
- blame, on
- explain, to
- stop/ prevent, from
- accuse, of
- disagree/agree with, over/about
- apologise to, for
- depend/rely on, for
- agree with, about/over
- rely/depend on, for
- quarrel with, about/over
- The firing squad aimed their rifles at the condemned man.
- The brilliant architect presented her imaginative proposals to us/presented us with her imaginative proposals.
- My uncle blames his hearing problems on old age.
- Do you agree with her about the corporate sponsorship deal?
- The crippled patient was cured of arthritis by the doctor’s radical new treatment.
- Why won’t you even discuss it with her?
- Gerald was accused by the court of lying under oath/of lying under oath by the court.
- Isaac was getting more and more fed up with his lack of progress.
- They say the terrorists are responsible for the atrocities.
- My students are interested in our film and photography course.
- The public rarely feels sorry for politicians caught behaving badly.
- We were was astonished at/by the quality of her singing voice.
- I don’t think he’s (very) fond of spicy food.
- Excessive consumption of fried food can be harmful to the arteries.
- I’m afraid I’m short of change at the moment.
- Our neighbour’s remarkably good to her cats.
- He is famous for his performance in Othello at the National Theatre.
- I’m (completely/very) sure of his abilities.
- I am grateful for your swift response to my enquiry.
- My two brothers are (very) different from me. (US: different than)
- The new legislation is concerned with deregulation of the airline industry.
- I’m curious about/to know how the magician did his tricks.
- My colleague is keen on all these new electronic gadgets.
- The daily swim seems to be good for him/his health.
- The research team is engaged in a brand new project.
- We aren’t hopeful of them/their reaching the final round.
- Inspector Morse believes the blind man is guilty of the murder.
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