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GRAMMAR: Dependent prepositions

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

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 prepositionsDependent 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 prepostions 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.

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Verbs and dependent prepositionsAdjectives and dependent prepositionsNouns and dependent prepositions
abide byaccording toin agreement
abstain fromaccustomed toattack on
accuse (somebody) ofafraid ofattitude towards
add toannoyed with/about/aton behalf of
adhere toanxious aboutcomparison between
agree withashamed ofon condition (that)
aim at/forastonished atconnection between
allow forattached tocruelty towards
apologise to someone for somethingaware ofdecrease in
apply fordelighted at/aboutdelay in
approve ofdifferent fromdifference between/of
argue with/aboutdissatisfied withdifficulty in/with
arrest (somebody) fordoubtful aboutdisadvantage of
ask forenthusiastic aboutin doubt
attend toenvious ofunder guarantee
believe inexcited aboutincrease in
belong tofamous forinformation about
blame (somebody) forfed up withintention of
boast aboutfond ofknowledge of
borrow (something) from (somebody)frightened ofneed for
call forfriendly withnotice of
care forgood atin order
choose betweenguilty ofpleasure in
comment onincapable ofin power
compare withinterested inin practice
complain aboutjealous ofpreference for
concentrate onkeen onprotection from
conform tokind toreaction to
congratulate onmad at/aboutreason for
consent toopposed toreduction in
consist ofpleased withreport on
deal withpopular withresult of
decide onproud ofrise in
excel at/inpuzzled by/aboutat risk
excuse (somebody) forsafe fromroom for
face up tosatisfied withsolution to
forgive (somebody) forsensitive to(wards)on strike
hear of/aboutserious abouton suspicion of
hope forsick ofunder suspicion
insist onsimilar toin theory
interfere with/insorry for/aboutin trouble
joke aboutsuspicious oftrouble with
laugh atsympathetic to(wards)
lend (something) to (somebody)tired of
listen totypical of
long forunaware of
mistake (somebody) forused 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
Click here to try the dependent prepositions exercises.
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