In English, many verbs are followed by prepositions and adverbs. In some cases these combinations are called ‘phrasal verbs’, while in other cases they are prepositional verbs. What’s the difference? Read on to find out more.
What is a prepositional verb?
A prepositional verb is a verb that is followed by a preposition. The meaning of these two words together is usually very similar to the original meaning of the verb. For example,
To worry about (someone or something)
Comparing a prepositional verb to a phrasal verb
While the meaning of a phrasal verb is often different to the original meaning of the main verb, the meaning of a prepositional verb is usually the same as the main verb. Phrasal verbs also use adverbs as well as prepositions, whereas prepositional verbs do not.
Phrasal verbs are also often separated by nouns and pronouns. For example,
Put your jacket on.
Put it on.
Prepositional verbs cannot be separated. The two words must remain together.
What are some common prepositional verbs?
There are some prepositional verbs that we use very often, so it’s useful to try to remember them. Here they are with their meanings and an example:
PREPOSITIONAL VERB EXAMPLE
agree with “I agree with you 100%.”
approve of “My parents didn’t approve of me leaving university.”
believe in “He’s 11 years old but he still believes in the tooth fairy.”
care for “She’s a nurse. She cares for the elderly.”
consist of “What does your course consist of?”
decide on “We need to decide on the budget for next year.”
depend on “I’m not sure if we’ll go out. It depends on the weather.”
deal with “Our manager has several problems to deal with.”
get on “Get on! The train is about to leave!”
get off “We arrived at the museum and got off the bus.”
get in “She got in the cab and it drove off.”
get out of “Paul got out of his car and opened the gate.”
insist on “They insist on meeting us tonight.”
laugh at “Are you laughing at me?”
listen to “I love listening to music.”
look after “My Mum looks after our kids after school.”
look at “Look at this painting. It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
look for “Ana is looking for a job.”
pay for “Dad paid for the meal and left a tip.”
specialize in “Pablo is specializing in international law.”
think about “It’s a great offer. Think about it and let me know your decision.”
wait for “Wait for me! I’m coming.”
work for “Who do you work for?”
Prepositional verbs with an object
There are a few prepositional verbs that have an object which can be put between the verb and the preposition. For example,
Remind + object + of
You remind me of my cousin.
Provide + object + with
They provided us with the material we needed.
Thank + object + for
I’d like to thank you for coming today.
Prepositional verbs are really useful to know because using the right preposition after a verb makes you sound very fluent. So when you learn new verbs, pay attention if they need to be followed by a particular preposition. As you can see from the examples above, the meaning often changes according to the preposition you use.
Try this quiz to practice using prepositional verbs now.