Common Mistakes with Dependent Prepositions

Feeling confused about English prepositions? Avoid making these typical mistakes in the use of prepositions after verbs in speaking and writing.

We all want to speak English correctly and naturally. If you still translate your thoughts in your own language word by word into English, there is a high chance you could be building some very common phrases inaccurately.

Why are dependent prepositions important?

Prepositions are hard to guess in a foreign language. You just have to remember how to use them. In English, some verbs prefer particular prepositions (without any logical connection), and we call them dependent.

Dependent prepositions are the ones which belong to verbs, adjectives, or nouns. They don’t form a new phrase, and they are often not translated into other languages or used differently in them.

For example, do you say

We are arriving in Amsterdam or We are arriving to Amsterdam?

When are you meeting him? or When are you meeting with him?

She asked a coffee or She asked for a coffee?

Can be confusing, right? Don’t jump to making your decision based on how the sentence is said in your own language.

In today’s lesson, I will show you which mistakes to avoid in using dependent prepositions after verbs.

Watch this video about 5 most common mistakes with dependent prepositions

And even more most common mistakes with dependent prepositions

Incorrect Correct Example
accuse in accuse of
  • She is accusing him of being lazy.
  • What are you accusing me of?
arrive to arrive in + cities, countries

arrive at + all other places

  • When does the train arrive in Prague?
  • We are now arriving in Vienna – please wait till the train stops.
  • They arrived at the station at 3.30.
  • She arrived at the office later than expected.
ask + something ask for + something
  • She asked for a cup of coffee.
  • I have to ask for your help again.
belong + somebody belong to somebody
  • Who does this fish belong to?
  • ‘I belong to you, and you belong to me too.’
depend of depend on
  • She doesn’t want to depend on her parents.
  • What does your decision depend on?
discuss about discuss + something
  • Let’s discuss our plans.
    They are discussing the terms of the contract.
divide on divide into
  • I have divided my presentation into 3 parts.
  • This cake can’t be divided into 12 parts.
enter to enter + some place
  • She has just entered the best university in the country.
  • When he entered the room, nobody was talking.
graduate + something / of something graduate from
  • I graduated from university not long ago.
  • It’s been quite a while since we graduated from university.
lack in / of lack + something
  • She lacks patience – is she really a teacher?
  • Your son lacks discipline.
laugh on laugh at
  • Don’t laugh at me – I am feeling stupid.
  • What are you laughing at?
listen + something or somebody listen to
  • Why are you listening to him?
  • What are you listening to?
  • She never listens to anybody.
live at / study at / work at + city or country live in / study in / work in + city or country
  • Does you brother really live in Japan?
  • I am going to work in Singapore next year.
  • Hector is studying medicine in Italy.
look forward for look forward to + Ving
  • I am looking forward to hearing from you.
  • She looked forward to her trip to Italy but then it got cancelled.
meet with meet + somebody
  • I met him at university 10 years ago.
  • Have you met my brother?
spend for spend on

spend + Ving

  • What do you spend all your money on?
  • She has spent a fortune on clothes this year.
  • I mostly spend weekends reading.
  • We spent two hours discussing the details of the contract.
wait + something or somebody wait for
  • Will you wait for me?
  • I am waiting for the test results.

You may find interesting

Figure Out English 13 Everyday phrases: ‘It depends’, ‘It doesn’t matter’, ‘It takes’

Figure Out English 15 Which prepositions to use after ‘go’ and ‘arrive’

Figure Out English 26 How to use ‘have’ in everyday speaking


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