English Grammar Guide

Common Errors with Prepositions

This page deals with some of the more common mistakes made with English prepositions

Common Errors

This page deals with some of the more common mistakes made with prepositions.

Prepositions and 'Ask'

Use 'ask' with 'for' to ask somebody to give something.
Use 'ask' without 'for' to ask somebody to say something.

  • Mistake:          He asked a coffee. ('Coffee' is not a person)

  • Correct:          He asked for a coffee.    (He wanted a coffee)

Prepositions and 'Prevent'

Prevent cannot be followed by 'to'.  It should be followed by 'from' and a verb '-ing' form.

  • Mistake:          He was prevented to come.

  • Correct:          He was prevented from coming.

  • Correct:          The loud noise prevented me from sleeping.

Prepositions and 'Meet'

Meet normally means 'come face to face with somebody or something'.  If it is used in this way, it cannot be used with the preposition 'with'.

  • Mistake:        I met with your friend.

  • Correct:        I met your friend.

Meet with - meaning 'to experience'.

  • Mistake:       He met misfortune.

  • Correct:       He met with misfortune.

Prepositions and 'Insist'

Insist cannot be followed by to. It is followed by on + -ing form.

  • Mistake:        She insisted to pay.

  • Correct:        She insisted on paying.

Prepositions and 'Go'

Go is often used with a verb '–ing' form when we are talking about sporting and leisure activities. No preposition is used in this structure.

  • Mistake:        Let's go for riding.

  • Correct:        Let's go riding.

The structure 'go for a / come for a' is used in a number of fixed expressions referring to sporting and leisure activities.

  • Mistake:        We went a walk.

  • Correct:        We went for a walk.

Prepositions and time

To talk about time starting from a specified time in the past and continuing until the present, we use 'since'.
Examples are: since last year, since Friday, since morning etc.

To talk about a period of time, in particular when we are describing the duration of a period of time, we use 'For'.
Examples are: for two hours, for two months etc.

  • Mistake:        This is the first time I have seen a movie since a long time.

  • Correct:        I haven't seen a movie for a long time.

  • Correct:        I haven't seen a movie in a long time. (American English)

  • Mistake:        I am ill since two weeks.

  • Correct:        I have been ill for two weeks.

  • Correct:        I have been ill since January.

  • Mistake:        It was the worst storm since ten years.

  • Correct:        It was the worst storm in ten years.

  • Correct:        It was the worst storm for ten years.

(In American English, 'In' can be used to talk about duration after negatives and superlative adjectives.)

Prepositions and the comparative adjectives 'inferior', 'superior', 'senior', 'junior'.

The comparative adjectives inferior, superior, senior, junior, anterior and posterior are followed by 'to' instead of 'than'.

  • Mistake:        Our company's performance is inferior than theirs.

  • Correct:        Our company's performance is inferior to theirs.

  • Mistake:        He is senior than me.

  • Correct:        He is senior to me.

  • Mistake:        He is superior than you in strength.

  • Correct:        He is superior to you in strength.

Prepositions and movement

The prepositions 'at', 'on' and 'in' are used for position; the preposition 'to' is used for movement or direction.
No preposition is used with verbs of movement and the noun 'home'.

  • Mistake:        Send this letter on my new address.

  • Correct:        Send this letter to my new address.

  • Mistake:        He goes in the school.

  • Correct:        He goes to the school.

  • Mistake:        He goes on his work.

  • Correct:        He goes to his work.

  • Mistake:        I am going to home.  /  I'm going at home.

  • Correct:        I am going home.