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By Johannes Helmold

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Hi everyone.

If you’d ask what I dislike about the English language, I would immediately blurt out “Prepositions!” They can sometimes be so tricky that even English native speakers find it difficult to choose the appropriate preposition in certain situations. With this in mind, I decided to prepare a short list of words using prepositions that cause the most problems to English speakers (especially ESL ones).

  • Hear

    There are three possible prepositions to use with “hear.”
    – To hear about something or someone—means to learn new information about a person or an object, event, and so on.
    – To hear from something—means to receive news or updates from a person, company, and so on.
    – To hear of something or someone—to be aware of the existence of a person, company, and so on.

  • Compare

    There are two possible options when using the word “compare”
    – To compare with—means to evaluate two objects/persons in order to reveal similarities and differences between them, to analyze them.
    – To compare to—means to draw a parallel between two objects/persons in order to show how they are alike.

  • Begin

    Rather often, people confuse using “begin from” and “begin with.”
    – “Begin with” is used to show that something happened/was done prior to everything else.
    – To “begin from” means to start in a specific location in physical space.

  • Arrive

    In 90% of the cases, people say “arrive to” when speaking of an arrival to a specific place. This is wrong!
    – You must say “arrive in” when talking about cities or specific places that have names.
    – You must say “arrive at” when speaking of buildings, such as offices, schools, and so on.

  • Consist/Comprise

    This one is easy, if you can remember that:
    – “to comprise” is used without any prepositions; its meaning is close to “to incorporate,” “to include.”
    – “consist” is used with the preposition “of” (to consist of something). Mind that it is never used in passive voice.

  • Here are some of the rules for prepositions. Next time, I will add some more interesting stuff regarding prepositions and the most confusing words in the English language.

    Good luck!

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