Dependent Prepositions: Usage, Examples, and 200 You Should Know

Line of clotheslines representing dependent prepositions

The list of English grammar rules attached to prepositions with relation to time, place, phrases, etc. is quite lengthy. There are even different types of prepositions that add another layer to all of the rules. In this article, we’re going to focus on the one preposition type that will help you truly sound like a native: dependent prepositions.

At this point, you know and understand prepositions. They’re words like in, at, over, under, etc. that connect nouns and pronouns to verbs and adjectives. Along with articles, they’re the most used words in the English language and are necessary for the most basic functions of the English language.

But once advancing beyond the basics of prepositions, many learners find that using them properly can become a little difficult. In fact, even though articles and prepositions are the most used words in English, they’re usually the last grammar aspect that speakers master. Why? Well, the words are used in literally thousands of different ways.

To navigate or skip ahead to the section you’re looking for, click on the links in the Table of Contents below.

 

Table of Contents

 

What is a Dependent Preposition?

Dependent prepositions are prepositions that depend on or must follow a particular verb, noun, or adjective.

Said in another way: when you use certain verbs, nouns, or adjectives, they are followed by a specific preposition (some use different prepositions for different meanings, but we’ll get to that later…). In these situations, there is no point in asking why. Sometimes there’s logic to the word combinations, but in most situations, there is no none.

Let’s look at an example sentence:

Grunge musicians ditched the costumes and flamboyant hair styles of the 80s and dressed in everyday style clothes and had unkempt hairstyles.

In the sentence above, in is a dependent preposition, and that combination is what English speakers use to describe the clothes someone is wearing. We don’t say dressed on, dressed down, dressed up, or any other combination in that instance.

Examples

  • She dressed in red for our first date.
  • To boost his confidence, Joe dressed in his favorite suit for the debate.

 

Dependent Prepositions vs. Phrasal Verbs vs. Infinitives

Though we don’t use dressed down or dressed up in the context of those sentences, English speakers DO use those combinations. These combinations are known as phrasal verbs and are NOT considered a dependent preposition.

The key difference between a phrasal verb and a preposition-dependent verb is that a phrasal verb can be followed by an adverb, and the phrase has its own meaning. Dependent prepositions do not create a new phrase.

In addition, when identifying dependent prepositions, remember that a preposition is only followed by a noun or pronoun. This can be confusing when looking at dependent prepositions like pleased with.

You may think, “But I thought you can use ‘pleased to’ as well.”

And you’re right! You can use pleased to, but it’s followed by a verb which makes it an infinitive. That’s not a dependent preposition. It’s an adjective followed by an infinitive.

Examples of Infinitives

  • I’m pleased to meet you.
  • She was pleased to see her mother.
  • They were pleased to hear that she’s doing well.

 

Different Words… Different Prepositions…

Lastly, there are different dependent preposition combinations that mean the same thing. For example, an object could belong to someone, be the property of someone, and be owned by someone. All combinations imply possession or ownership.

That’s the problem for ESL students (and native speakers at times!). There is a VERY long list of these combinations, and they don’t always translate well into other languages.

 

So how do I learn dependent prepositions?

I’m glad you asked. The simple answer is: they’re just like irregular verbs; you have to memorize them. But don’t worry! At Magoosh, we’ll never leave you hanging.

Below is a list of dependent prepositions broken up by their part of speech adjective, noun, verb (and in alphabetical order) with examples for context. Be sure to bookmark this page and refer to this definitive list anytime you have a question about a dependent preposition.

We also made a Quizlet (online flashcard) deck to help you learn this list.

>>Click here for the dependent prepositions flashcard deck<<

If you go through our list and see one we missed (Great catch!), be sure to leave a comment below. You can also scroll down for a few additional resources on the topic.

 

List of 200 Dependent Prepositions to Know

Adjectives and Dependent Prepositions Example
According to According to these documents, you’ve been married for over 20 years.
Accustomed to He’s not accustomed to manual labor.
Afraid of The boy is afraid of spiders.
Anxious about The population seems anxious about the upcoming election.
Ashamed of She’s very ashamed of her family.
Astonished at We were astonished at the detail of the restoration.
Attached to The handle is attached to the pitcher.
Aware of I’m aware of his mistakes and will address them tomorrow.
Capable of The ship is not capable of sailing through that storm.
Crazy about I was crazy about comic books when I was a kid.
Different from Alice was always different from all of the other girls.
Dissatisfied with I’m very dissatisfied with my purchase and would like a refund.
Doubtful about/of We’re doubtful of her abilities to perform the task.

I’m doubtful about your story.

Enthusiastic about The girl was enthusiastic about her upcoming trip to Disneyland.
Envious of She was envious of her sister’s accomplishments.
Excited about Are you excited about your birthday party?
Famous for The restaurant is famous for its slow cooked dishes.
Fed up with I’m getting fed up with all of the inaction on this issue.
Fond of My grandmother was very fond of him.
Friendly with/to/toward Sue was always friendly with her neighbors

He is friendly to the other children.

She is friendly towards her classmates.

Guilty of He was found guilty of treason.
Hooked on I’ve been hooked on the new season of Stranger Things
Incapable of She’s incapable of committing such a horrible crime.
Interested in Are you interested in anything else?
Jealous of He was very jealous of her ex-husband.
Keen on Johnny was always keen on things dealing with computers.
Kind to Our family dog was very kind to everyone.
Opposed to Most people were opposed to the new rules.
Pleased with The producers were pleased with the first draft of the script.
Popular with The show was popular with teenagers in the 1980s.
Proud of His parents were very proud of him that year.
Puzzled by/about I’m puzzled by people who like to mix mayonnaise and mustard.

That season, everyone was puzzled about whether Joe was the killer or not.

Responsible for As a police officer, he’s responsible for the safety of the public.
Safe from In that moment, we knew we were safe from anything that could harm us.
Satisfied with I’m not satisfied with the results of this test.
Sensitive to/towards We promised to be sensitive to his special needs.

He was very sensitive towards the plight of animals in need.

Serious about He was very serious about the graduate program.
Sick of I’m sick of staying inside every day!
Similar to Thriller novels are similar to horror novels with some subtle differences.
Sorry for/about He said that he was sorry for scratching her car.

He said that he was sorry about scratching her car.

Suspicious of They were suspicious of the man on the video feed.
Sympathetic to/towards I’m very sympathetic to single mothers.

I’m very sympathetic towards single mothers.

Tired of She was tired of all the arguing in the house.
Typical of It’s typical of bear cubs to leave their mothers at six to eight months.
Unaware of He was unaware of the consequences of his actions.
Used to I’m used to living alone now.
Vigilant about They were vigilant about testing everyone for possible contamination.
Nouns and Dependent Prepositions Example
Anxiety about She’s having anxiety about moving away from home.
Attack on It was an attack on our values.
Attitude towards Her attitude towards her father was very positive.
Comparison between You can draw a comparison between many acting teaching methods.
Connection between Is there any connection between Donald and Sarah?
Cruelty towards He showed cruelty towards animals at an early age.
Decrease in We’re seeing a decrease in the number of infections.
Delay in There has been a delay in the delivery of the results.
Demand for Investors are seeing a demand for more Apple products than last year.
Difference between Scientists are researching the difference between the two types of elements.
Difficulty in/with She’s having difficulty in breathing while exercising.

They’re having difficulty with their two-year-old.

Impact on The level of pollution in the air has an impact on the health of the citizens.
Increase in The researcher cited an increase in crime over the past ten years.
Information about I’m seeking information about buying a used vehicle.
Intention of He had no intention of entering the building.
Key to The key to success is good sleep.
Key factor in A key factor in our research was interviewing patients to see how they felt after the treatment.
Knowledge of The lawyer also had a vast knowledge of baseball history.
Lack of The school was suffering from a lack of supplies for the new year.
Need for Our office has a need for people like you.
Notice of The city sent notice of a delay in garbage pick up next week.
Prevent (something) from The idea is to prevent the dog from entering the house.
Reaction to The child had a positive reaction to the medicine.
Reason for What is the reason for his actions?
Reduction in The company is expecting a reduction in supplies.
Report on I’m looking forward to his report on the weather situation.
Result of It was a result of hard work and determination.
Rise in We’re seeing a rise in the number of speeding tickets this year.
Room for Is there room for one more?
Solution to Scientists are actively looking for a solution to the problem.
Taste for I don’t have a taste for sushi.
Trouble with They’re having trouble with their son.
Way to I’m looking for a way to fix my car with the tools I already have.
Verbs and Dependent Prepositions Example
Abide by People don’t always abide by the rules.
Abstain from Please abstain from smoking on our porch.
Accuse (somebody) of They accused Joey of stealing the candy, but he didn’t do it.
Add to We need to add to our list of projects this month.
Adhere to He isn’t one to adhere to the rules.
Advise (someone) to Our lawyer advised her to not say anything to the press.
Agree with We don’t agree with him.
Aim at/for They found a solution aimed at creating an amicable settlement.

We always aim for an easy solution to our customer’s problems.

Allow for The weather didn’t allow for a safe flight today.
Apologize for I’d like to apologize for my actions last week.
Approve of Her father didn’t approve of the arrangement.
Argue with/about I don’t want to argue with you.

I don’t want to argue about that.

Arise from Many problems arise from the use of tobacco products.
Arrest for He was arrested for trespassing last year.
Arrive in/at The couple will arrive in five minutes.

The couple will arrive at 7 p.m.

Ask for I didn’t ask for anything too difficult.
Attend to The nurse was the first person to attend to her needs.
Beg for She refused to beg for anything ever again.
Believe in He didn’t believe in removing his shoes before entering a house.
Belong to They don’t belong to that group.
Beware of You should really beware of the bears in the area.
Blame for I’m not the one to blame for his mistakes.
Boast about He was always boasting about his accomplishments.
Borrow (something) from You can borrow it from your brother.
Buy (something) for I’m going to buy a ring for my wife.
Call for The recipe calls for two cups of sugar.
Care about/for He really does care about her.

She will do her best to care for him.

Choose between I can’t choose between the red or the white dress.
Comment on He would always comment on the state of politics in the country.
Compare with Few runners could compare with him when he was at his best.
Complain about They’re always going to complain about low wages.
Comply with He refused to comply with the rules of the house.
Conceal (something) from He tried to conceal it from his family.
Concentrate on She had a hard time concentrating on her studies.
Conform to They weren’t one to conform to standard dress.
Congratulate (someone) on We wanted to congratulate her on her victory last week.
Consent to I don’t consent to any sort of test.
Consist of The recipe consists of three types of fruits and some dairy.
Contribute to The author also contributed to the daily newspaper.
Cook for I don’t want to cook for my father.
Deal with They don’t want to deal with the problem at hand.
Depend on/upon She really depends on her sister.

She really depends upon her sister.

Deter (someone) from I didn’t want to deter him from pursuing his dreams.
Disappear from He just seemed to disappear from the face of the Earth.
Discriminate against It’s not just to discriminate against another person.
Dispose of I don’t know where to dispose of this trash.
Distinguish (someone) from He set out to distinguish himself from the rest of the group.
Do (something) for I’ll do it for her.
Dream of/about I’ve always dreamed of going to Paris.

I’ve always dreamed about going to Paris.

Escape from The men couldn’t escape from their cells.
Excel at/in He excels at computer science.

He excels in computer science.

Exchange (something) for I’m going to exchange it for something else.
Excuse for The is no excuse for making a scene in that situation.
Expect to I don’t expect to get my money back.
Find (something) for He set out to find the hat for her.
Fine (someone) for They decided to fine Jon for leaving his trash out on the street.
Forget about I can’t seem to forget about her.
Forgive (somebody) for Will you ever forgive your dad for leaving?
Get (something) for I’m going to get a new sweater for him.
Give (something) to Is she going to give the bracelet to her mom?
Hide from We had to hide from the dog.
Hear of/about Did you ever hear of the old man in the tower?

Did you ever hear about the old man in the tower?

Hope for I can hope for a better solution, but it doesn’t seem likely.
Incorporated into The neighborhood was incorporated into the city in 1945.
Insist on I hate to insist on such things, but it helps me sleep.
Interfere with/in She would always interfere with her sister’s affairs.

She would always interfere in her sister’s affairs.

Introduce (someone) to He was the first one to introduce me to her.
Invite (someone) to Are you going to invite him to your party?
Invest (something) in I was the first to invest money in the company.
Joke about We always joked about running away, but we never did it.
Laugh at Why do they always laugh at her?
Leave for I’m going to leave for my appointment.
Leave (something) for My mom is going to leave my lunch for me at the front office.
Lend (something) to (someone) Can you lend your coat to Jim?
Listen to I like to listen to the radio when I’m working out.
Long for I long for the day when I can go outside again.
Make (something) for She said she’s going to make a cake for her birthday.
Mistake (someone) for I always mistake him for his brother.
Object to They didn’t object to the lighting.
Offer (something) to She wanted to offer a better loan to the couple, but their credit was awful.
Participate in He always participated in sports when he was a kid.
Pay for I’m not going to pay for it.
Pay (something) to She needs to pay the money to her landlord.
Praise (somebody) for Always praise the dog for behaving well.
Pray for She said she would pray for her.
Prepare for I need to prepare for my test next week.
Present (somebody) with They’re going to present him with the medal at the ceremony.
Prevent (someone) from We did it to prevent him from buying the house.
Prohibit (someone) from The order prohibits her from being within 30 feet of the building.
Protect (someone or something) from We have to protect the house from water.
Protest about The group went to protest about a proposed amendment.
Provide (someone) with I always try to provide her with a hot meal at lunch.
Punish (someone) for They’re going to punish him for his actions last month.
Recover from Hopefully she’ll recover from the accident soon.
Refer to If you’ll refer to your sheet, you’ll see what we’re discussing.
Rely on/upon She relied on her sister to bring her water.

She relied upon her sister to bring her water.

Rescue (something or someone) from They sent a helicopter to rescue him from the river.
Respond to Are you doing to respond to her call?
Run for He said he’s going to run for president.
Result in The flood resulted in extensive damage to the area.
Save (someone) from We fought to save the house from demolition.
Search for They’re going to search for their neighbor’s dog.
Sell (something) to Is she going to sell it to you?
Send (something) to Just send it to her cousin instead.
Sentence to We found out he was sentenced to life in prison.
Smile at She always smiled at him.
Spend (something) on I like to spend time on my cooking hobby.
Stare at I like to stop and stare at the ocean waves every afternoon.
Stop (someone or something) from We couldn’t stop him from leaving.
Subscribe to Do you subscribe to the New York Times?
Substitute for She sent her assistant to substitute for her.
Succeed in He will always succeed in business affairs.
Suffer from She suffers from a lack of good judgement.
Talk with/to (someone) about We need to talk to him about his actions.

We need to talk with him about his actions.

Thank (someone) for Remind me to thank Jenny for her beautiful flowers.
Think of/about Think of something you need to do.

Think about something you need to do.

Vote for They asked us to vote for her father.
Wait for We’re not going to wait for him all night.
Warn (someone) about He needs to warn him about the computer virus.
Worry about I don’t worry about anything.

 

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

arrive at

The couple will arrive in five minutes.

The couple will arrive at 7 p.m.

ask + something ask for I didn’t ask for anything too difficult.
belong + somebody belong to They don’t belong to that group.
depend of depend on She really depends on her sister.

She really depends upon her sister.

divide on divide into I have divided my presentation into 3 parts.

This cake can’t be divided into 12 parts.

graduate + something / of something graduate from I graduated from university not long ago.

It’s been quite a while since we graduated from university.

laugh on laugh at Why do they always laugh at her?
listen + something or somebody listen to I like to listen to the radio when I’m working out.
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.

spend for Spend (something) on I like to spend time on my cooking hobby.
wait + something or somebody wait for Will you wait for me?

I am waiting for the test results.

Hopefully our list has answered any questions you have about dependent prepositions. Again, if we missed one or two, feel free to leave a comment below! We’d love to get your feedback.

Ultimately, these dependent preposition combos should become part of your muscle memory. And you can’t master them without context. Here are two examples of embarrassing mixups that we’ve noticed in the past. May they serve as good learning materials for you. 
 

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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