Collocations with verbs + prepositions

Monday, March 7, 2016

Why do we describe McDonald's as a “fast food” restaurant, not a “quick food” restaurant? Because English speakers are accustomed to using collocations, which are two or more words that often go together. That’s why we say “happy hour” and not “joyful hour”.

Collocations are fixed expressions or word pairings that just sound "right" to native English speakers because we tend to use these combinations over and over again. There is nothing wrong with speaking freely and not collocating, but doing so would reveal that you aren't a native speaker whose meaning many not be clear.

Because these words are “fixed” together, they must be memorized. One area where English learners run into trouble is knowing verb + preposition collocations. It’s vital that they be paired correctly. Using prepositions is rather difficult anyway but people find it easier to remember verbs + prepositions as sets rather than as individual words.

Here is a list of common verb + preposition collocations:

  • accuse (someone) of ([doing] something)
add (something) to (something else)
admire (someone) for ([doing] something)

  • agree on (topic)
agree with (someone)

  • apologize to (someone) for ([doing] something)
apply to (a place) for (something)
approve of (something)

  • argue with (someone) about (topic)
arrive at (a building, room, site, event)
arrive in (a city, country)
ask (someone) about (someone/topic)

  • ask (someone) for (something)

  • believe in (something)

  • belong to (someone)
blame (someone) for ([doing] something)

  • borrow (something) from (someone)

  • care about (someone/something/topic)
comment on (topic)
compare (something) to/with (something else)

  • complain to (someone) about (something)
concentrate on ([doing] something)

congratulate (someone) for/on ([doing] something)

  • consist of (some things)

  • consent to ([doing] something)
contribute to (something)
count on (someone) to (do something)
cover (something) with (something else)

  • decide on (topic)
depend on (someone) for (something)

  • discuss (something) with (someone)
distinguish (something) from (something else)
dream about/of (someone/something)

  • escape from (somewhere)
explain (topic) to (someone)
excuse (someone) for ([doing] something)

  • forgive (someone for ([doing] something)

  • get rid of (something)
graduate from (a place)

  • happen to (someone)
help (someone) with (something)
hide (something) from (someone)

  • insist (up)on (something)

  • introduce (someone) to (someone else)
invite (someone) to (an event)

  • keep (something) for (someone)

  • matter to (someone)

  • object to (something)

  • participate in (something)
pay (price) for (something)
  • plan on ([doing] something)
pray for (someone/something)

  • prefer (something) to (something else)
prevent (someone) from ([doing] something)

  • prohibit (someone) from ([doing] something)

  • protect (someone) from (something)
provide (someone) with (something)

  • recover from (something)
rely (up)on (someone/something)
remind (someone) of (something)
rescue (someone) from (something)
respond to (someone/something)

  • save (someone) from (something)

  • search for (something)

  • separate (something) from (something else)
scold (someone) for ([doing] something)
smile at (someone)
speak to/with (someone) about (topic)
stare at (something/someone)
stop (someone) from ([doing] something)
subscribe to (something)
substitute (something) for (something else/someone)

  • subtract (something) from (something else)
succeed in ([doing] something)
suffer from (something)

  • take advantage of (someone/something/situation)
take care of (something/someone)

  • talk to/with (someone) about (topic)
thank (someone) for ([doing] something)
travel to (somewhere)

  • vote for (someone)

  • vouch for (someone)

  • wait for (someone/something)
wish for (something)

  • work for (company/something/someone)

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