Saturday, February 24, 2007

Using Prepositions Correctly

February 24, 2007

While finishing my lesson plans for Monday's co-op classes, I came across this gem of an explanation for using tricky prepositions correctly. These are some of the most prevalent errors in our everyday speech. Have you ever had that experience when you look at a written phrase and know something is wrong but can't quite figure it out? I--yes even I, the Queen of Grammar--have done that before with "of vs. have" especially. (OK, maybe only once--but still... ) Another tricky word is, well, "another." Start listening for this: "I had a whole nother piece left on my plate!" It looks silly when you see it in print, but just pay attention in this next week to how many times you catch others--or yourself--splitting the word "another" into "a whole nother" or some such variation.

But without further adieu, I present for you and your students:

(beside, besides) Beside means “by the side of”; besides means “in addition to.”
He leads me beside the river.
Do you have any money besides that in your checking account?

(between, among) Use between when referring to two people or things; use among when referring to more than two, as a group.
We hung a hammock between two trees.
He feels at ease even among strangers.

(except, accept) Except, as a preposition, means “excluding.” Accept is a verb and means “to receive” or “to agree to.”
No one knew the answer except Juan.
Can you accept criticism graciously?

(in, into)
Use in for location within; use into for motion from outside to inside.
Make sure you are in bed by ten o’clock.
Come into the house and have some coffee.

(of, have) Of is a preposition and should not be used for the helping verb have.
INCORRECT: You should of come when I called you.
CORRECT: You should have come when I called you.

(to, and)
Do not use the conjunction and after the words try and sure. Use the word to instead.
WRONG: Be sure and lock your house.
CORRECT: Be sure to lock your house.
WRONG: Try and make it work.
CORRECT: Try to make it work.

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