Advanced Grammar for IELTS: Dependent prepositions

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.


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.


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. 


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.


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)


(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*

(US English)

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

aim of/in

amazement at

anger about/ at

annoyance about/at

answer to*

anxiety about

apology for

attack on

awareness of

belief in

boredom with

craving for

damage to*

danger of/ in

decrease of (+ quantity)

decrease in*

delay in

delay of (+ duration)

demand for *

difficulty in

effect of

excitement about/at

expense of

fear of

gratitude for

hope of

idea of

increase in’

increase of (+ quantity)

insistence on

insurance against

interest in

job of

lack of

matter of

matter with *

method of

objection to

pleasure of/ in

point of/in

possibility of

prelude to

problem of / in

proof of

prospect of/for

purpose of / in

question about/of

reason for

relationship with

satisfaction with

sequel to

solution to*

success in

surprise at

task of

taste for

thought of

way of

work of

worry about

5D. Adjective + preposition

(* These adjectives can also be followed by to + infinitive.)

absent from

accustomed to

addicted to

afraid* of

amazed at / by

angry, annoyed*. furious *

at/ about (+ the cause of

this feeling)

angry, annoyed, furious with

(+ the person who caused

this feeling)

anxious about (= feel nervous/worried about

sb/ sth)

anxious * for (= waiting

impatiently for sth)

ashamed* of

astonished at/ by

available for (+ purpose)

available to (+ person)

aware of

bad/ good at (= ability)

badlgood for (= effect on


bad/ good to (= behaviour

towards/treatment of the


based on

bored with

capable of

characteristic of

close to

concerned about (= worried


concerned with (= involved


conducive to

confident of

content* with

contrary to

convenient for

conversant with

crazy* about

crowded with

curious* about

deficient in

dependent on

devoid of

different to/from

different than (US English)

disgusted with/ at

eager* for

engaged* in (= working

in/involved in)

engaged to (= promised to


excited* about

faithful to

famous for

fed up with

fond of

fraught with

glad for (= pleased for sb)

glad of (= grateful for sth)

good at/ for / to ( =>  bad)

grateful for (+ the cause of

this feeling)

grateful to (+ the person

who caused this feeling)

guilty of

harmful to

hopeful of

impervious to

impressed with/by

inclined towards

incumbent upon

inherent in

intent on

interested* in

jealous of

keen * on

kind to

lacking in

late for

made by (+ the

person/company who

produced it)

made for (+ its purpose)

made from (+ original

material which has been


made of (+ original material

which is still visible)

nervous of

obedient to

obvious to

opposed to

pleased at/about

(+ something general,

e.g. your recovery/the

inflation figures)

pleased with (+ something

personal, e.g. my exam

results/my new jacket)

popular with

prone to

proud* of

ready * for

related to

reminiscent of

responsible for

riddled with

scared of

shocked at

short of

similar to

sorry * about (+ the cause of

this feeling)

sorry for (+ the person you

feel sympathy towards)

subject to

successful in

sufficient for

suitable for

superior to

sure of

terrified of

tired of

typical of

upset about/ by/ over (+ the

cause of this feeling)

upset with (+ the person

who caused this feeling)

worried about

worthy of

wrong with

Also check :


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.

Q 2. 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
  1. Somehow I managed to __________my parents_________ my innocence.
  2. The subcontractors should be able to ________ you ________ spare parts.
  3. The immigration authorities couldn’t________ the refugees________ entering the country.
  4. Do you honestly think this faith healer will manage to________ him________ his stutter?
  5. The Chief Constable is going to________ Harold________ this year’s award for bravery.
  6. In my opinion we can________ today’s unemployment problem________ the previous government.
  7. I’m rather confused; you’d better ________ that procedure________ me again.
  8. Don’t take it out on me; I’ve never tried to ________ you ________ doing what you felt was right.
  9. I wouldn’t dare ________ him________ stealing, although I certainly don’t trust him.
  10. Congress is bound to________ the President________ the increase in federal taxes.
  11. I absolutely refuse to________ them________ my comments; they were completely justified.
  12. Since the accident he’s had to________ his mother________ everything.
  13. I’m happy to report that the unions________ us________ the need for wage controls next year.
  14. In the event of a power cut you will have to________ the emergency generator ________ electricity.
  15. Look, just give me the car keys; I don’t want to________ you ________ this any longer.

Q 3. 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.

  1. Soap star gives no reason ___________ divorce
  2. Scientists predict success_________ battle against cancer.
  3. Fear __________ sunburn keeps children indoors.
  4. Ministry announce solution ___________traffic jam nightmares
  5. Possibility__________ manned journey to Saturn say NASA
  6. Film star denies attack _________ photographer.
  7. Renewed prospect_________ peace at UN talks
  8. Palace issues apology_________ misleading statement
  9. Little hope___________ survivors in avalanche horror
  10. Ministers question effect­­­­­­____________ violence in Hollywood films
  11. Sequel ______________ ‘titanic’ bombs at box office
  12. Congressman questioned over relationship ____________big business
  13. PM gives job_________ drugs tsar to ex police chief
  14. New wonder drug reduces craving __________ Nicotine.
  15. Travel companies fail to provide insurance _________ airport delays
  16. New way __________ filing tax returns provokes anger in city
  17. What’s the matter______________ our teams? Ask soccer supremos
  18. Government deny belief___________ quick fix solutions
  19. Task____________ cleaning up beaches given to volunteers
  20. Bank announces shock increase ___________ inflation figures

Q 5. 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.

fed up                                                                        

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.


Q 6.Complete the crossword using the missing words from these sentences.


  1. My client will be able to give__________ to your queries at this afternoon’s press conference.
  2. I was furious__________ the teachers for allowing such bullying to carry on unchecked.
  3. Since the stroke Lucy has__________ on her children for all her basic needs.
  4. The class had a stimulating discussion__________ the refugee crisis.
  5. I feel my main job will be to __________ the board of the need for substantial investment.
  6. We regret to announce that this evening’s flight will be subject to a__________ of fifty minutes.
  7. The committee__________ her for the high standard of her application.
  8. We try to__________ products for the more discerning customer.
  9. Our paper is made__________ 100 per cent recycled pulp.
  10. We felt that such a rude response was not__________ of a person in his privileged position.


  1. There will be no problem __________ you with all the spare parts you require.
  2. I really can’t worry about __________ he has personal problems or not.
  3. The National Health Service seems unable to cope with the increasing__________ for high-tech procedures.
  4. The manager insisted__________ we leave immediately.
  5. The trust is going to__________ him with a substantial annual income.
  6. The beach was__________ with happy holidaymakers enjoying the sunshine.
  7. I look forward to__________ the new sales manager next month.
  8. Findler and Outhwaite have agreed__________ represent us at the pre-trial hearing.
  9. We crowded around the telephone as we were all__________ for news of my father’s progress.
  10. I blame the government__________ not recognising the problem soon enough.

Advanced Grammar For IELTS: Dependent Prepositions


  1. apologise to ==> apologise to her/him
  2. sit ==> sitting
  3. to ==> with
  4. astonished-at that her boyfriend had behaved ==> astonished that her boyfriend had behaved/astonished at her boyfriend having behaved
  5. if ==> whether
  6. quarrelled-his-wife ==> quarrelled with his wife
  7. on you their-party-costumes ==> on you for their party costumes.
  8. provide-Sam for a-room ==> provide Sam with a room/provide a room for Sam
  9. me on the details ==> all the details to me.
  10. demanded for ==> demanded
  11. growing ==> growth
  12. furious by ==> furious at/about
  13. scared by ==> scared of


Q 1.

  1. E 2. H 3. C  4.  J   5. B
  2. C 7. I 8. D  9. F  10. A

Q 2.

  1. convince, of
  2. supply, with
  3. prevent/stop, from
  4. cure, of
  5. present, with
  6. blame, on
  7. explain, to
  8. stop/ prevent, from
  9. accuse, of
  10. disagree/agree with, over/about
  11. apologise to, for
  12. depend/rely on, for
  13. agree with, about/over
  14. rely/depend on, for
  15. quarrel with, about/over

Q 3.

  1. The firing squad aimed their rifles at the condemned man.
  2. The brilliant architect presented her imaginative proposals to us/presented us with her imaginative proposals.
  3. My uncle blames his hearing problems on old age.
  4. Do you agree with her about the corporate sponsorship deal?
  5. The crippled patient was cured of arthritis by the doctor’s radical new treatment.
  6. Why won’t you even discuss it with her?
  7. Gerald was accused by the court of lying under oath/of lying under oath by the court.

Q 4.

1. for

2. in

3. of

4. to

5. of

6. on

7. of

8. for

9. of

10. of

11. to

12. with

13. of

14. for

15. against

16. of

17. with

18. in

19. of

20. in


Q 5.

  1. Isaac was getting more and more fed up with his lack of progress.
  2. They say the terrorists are responsible for the atrocities.
  3. My students are interested in our film and photography course.
  4. The public rarely feels sorry for politicians caught behaving badly.
  5. We were was astonished at/by the quality of her singing voice.
  6. I don’t think he’s (very) fond of spicy food.
  7. Excessive consumption of fried food can be harmful to the arteries.
  8. I’m afraid I’m short of change at the moment.
  9. Our neighbour’s remarkably good to her cats.
  10. He is famous for his performance in Othello at the National Theatre.
  11. I’m (completely/very) sure of his abilities.
  12. I am grateful for your swift response to my enquiry.
  13. My two brothers are (very) different from me. (US: different than)
  14. The new legislation is concerned with deregulation of the airline industry.
  15. I’m curious about/to know how the magician did his tricks.
  16. My colleague is keen on all these new electronic gadgets.
  17. The daily swim seems to be good for him/his health.
  18. The research team is engaged in a brand new project.
  19. We aren’t hopeful of them/their reaching the final round.
  20. Inspector Morse believes the blind man is guilty of the murder.

Q 6.    


1 answers

3 with

4 depended

11 about

12 convince

13 delay

15 praised

16 make

17 from

18 worthy


2 supplying

3 whether

5 demand

6 that

7 provide

8 crowded

9 meeting

10 to

14 eager

17 for


Tags from the story
Written By

Nafia Zuhana is an experienced content writer and IELTS Trainer. Currently, she is guiding students who are appearing for IELTS General and Academic exams through With an 8.5 score herself, she trains and provides test takers with strategies, tips, and nuances on how to crack the IELTS Exam. She holds a degree in Master of Arts – Creative Writing, Oxford Brookes University, UK. She has worked with The Hindu for over a year as an English language trainer.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *