The list of rules attached to prepositions with relation to time, place, phrases, etc… is quite lengthy. There are even different types of prepositions that add another layer to all of the rules. In this article, we’re going to focus on the one preposition type that will help you truly sound like a native: dependent prepositions.
At this point, you know and understand prepositions.They’re words like in, at, over, under, etc… that connect nouns and pronouns to verbs and adjectives. Along with articles, they're the most used words in the English language and are necessary for the most basic functions of the English language.
But once advancing beyond the basics of prepositions, many learners find that using them properly can become a little difficult. In fact, even though articles and prepositions are the most used words in English, they’re usually the last grammar aspect that speakers master. Why? Well, the words are used in literally thousands of different ways.
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Table of Contents
What is a Dependent Preposition?
Dependent prepositions are prepositions that depend on or must follow a particular verb, noun, or adjective.
Said in another way: when you use certain verbs, nouns, or adjectives, they are followed by a specific preposition (some use different prepositions for different meanings, but we’ll get to that later…). In these situations, there is no point in asking why. Sometimes there’s logic to the word combinations, but in most situations, there is no none.
**Side note: Our Free English Class series is a great way for intermediate and advanced learners looking to take their skills to the next level!!***
Grunge musicians ditched the costumes and flamboyant hair styles of the 80s and dressed in everyday style clothes and had unkempt hairstyles.
In the sentence above, in is a dependent preposition, and that combination is what English speakers use to describe the clothes someone is wearing. We don’t say dressed on, dressed down, dressed up, or any other combination in that instance.
Dependent Prepositions vs. Phrasal Verbs vs. Infinitives
Though we don’t use dressed down or dressed up in the context of those sentences, English speakers DO use those combinations. These combinations are known as phrasal verbs and are NOT considered a dependent preposition.
The key difference between a phrasal verb and a preposition-dependent verb is that a phrasal verb can be followed by an adverb, and the phrase has its own meaning. Dependent prepositions do not create a new phrase.
In addition, when identifying dependent prepositions, remember that a preposition is only followed by a noun or pronoun. This can be confusing when looking at dependent prepositions like pleased with.
You may think, “But I thought you can use ‘pleased to’ as well.”
And you’re right! You can use pleased to, but it’s followed by a verb which makes it an infinitive. That’s not a dependent preposition. It’s an adjective followed by an infinitive.
Examples of Infinitives
Different Words… Different Prepositions...
Lastly, there are different dependent preposition combinations that mean the same thing. For example, an object could belong to someone, be the property of someone, and be owned by someone. All combinations imply possession or ownership.
That’s the problem for ESL students (and native speakers at times!). There is a VERY long list of these combinations, and they don’t always translate well into other languages.
So how do I learn dependent prepositions?
I’m glad you asked. The simple answer is: they’re just like irregular verbs; you have to memorize them. But don’t worry! At Magoosh, we’ll never leave you hanging.
Below is a list of dependent prepositions broken up by their part of speech adjective, noun, verb (and in alphabetical order) with examples for context. Be sure to bookmark this page and refer to this definitive list anytime you have a question about a dependent preposition.
We also made a Quizlet (online flashcard) deck to help you learn this list.
If you go through our list and see one we missed (Great catch!), be sure to leave a comment below. You can also scroll down for a few additional resources on the topic.
List of 200 Dependent Prepositions to Know
Common Mistakes with Dependent Prepositions
Hopefully our list has answered any questions you have about dependent prepositions. Again, if we missed one or two, feel free to leave a comment below! We’d love to get your feedback.
If you want to master dependent prepositions and take your English speaking to the next level, schedule a session with one of our experienced online tutors! At Magoosh English Speaking, we’re here to help you master English and speak like a native.