Dependent prepositions

Certain verbs, adjectives and nouns naturally take certain prepositions when placed in a sentence – these are called dependent prepositions.

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For example, you can object to (something), participate in (something), complain about (something).

Unfortunately there are no fixed rules that can help you decide which dependent prepositions should be placed with which words, you really just need to learn them.

Remember that sometimes usage of different dependent prepositions change the meaning.

Dependent prepositions example 1:

He is angry with us. (angry with ‘someone’)

He is angry about the problem. (angry about ‘a situation’)

Dependent prepositions example 2:

He is good at football (meaning he has skill / ability in something – he is good at (playing) football).

She is good with children (meaning she has a positive relationship with / has an affinity with…).

A teacher for example, might be good at teaching English and may be good with their students.

The best way to learn more about dependent prepositions is to make a list of your own, and then find sentences that use the structure. Google can be very useful for that. For example, if you were trying to remember that complain is generally followed by about, simply type in “complain about” in Google and see the results.

NOTE: It is important to use the speech marks (” “) around the phrase you are searching for so that only results with that phrase will come up.

More examples of dependent prepositions follow in the table below.

Verbs and dependent prepositions Adjectives and dependent prepositions Nouns and dependent prepositions
abide by according to in agreement
abstain from accustomed to attack on
accuse (somebody) of afraid of attitude towards
add to annoyed with/about/at on behalf of
adhere to anxious about comparison between
agree with ashamed of on condition (that)
aim at/for astonished at connection between
allow for attached to cruelty towards
apologise to someone for something aware of decrease in
apply for delighted at/about delay in
approve of different from difference between/of
argue with/about dissatisfied with difficulty in/with
arrest (somebody) for doubtful about disadvantage of
ask for enthusiastic about in doubt
attend to envious of under guarantee
believe in excited about increase in
belong to famous for information about
blame (somebody) for fed up with intention of
boast about fond of knowledge of
borrow (something) from (somebody) frightened of need for
call for friendly with notice of
care for good at in order
choose between guilty of pleasure in
comment on incapable of in power
compare with interested in in practice
complain about jealous of preference for
concentrate on keen on protection from
conform to kind to reaction to
congratulate on mad at/about reason for
consent to opposed to reduction in
consist of pleased with report on
deal with popular with result of
decide on proud of rise in
excel at/in puzzled by/about at risk
excuse (somebody) for safe from room for
face up to satisfied with solution to
forgive (somebody) for sensitive to(wards) on strike
hear of/about serious about on suspicion of
hope for sick of under suspicion
insist on similar to in theory
interfere with/in sorry for/about in trouble
joke about suspicious of trouble with
laugh at sympathetic to(wards)
lend (something) to (somebody) tired of
listen to typical of
long for unaware of
mistake (somebody) for used to
object to
pay for
praise (somebody) for
prepare for
present (somebody) with
prevent (somebody) from
protest about
provide (somebody) with
punish (somebody) for
refer to
rely on
run for
save (somebody) from
sentence (somebody) to
smile at
succeed in
suffer from
stand for
talk to (somebody) about (something)
thank (somebody) for
think of/about
volunteer to
wait for
warn (somebody) about
worry about

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