Prepositions are little words but they can have a big impact on the meaning of what you say. Sometimes using the correct preposition can make the difference between successful communication and confusion.
There are some rules for using prepositions. For example, we use at when we give a clock time: We’re meeting at 2 o’clock. And we use in to describe the location of something: My phone is in my bag.
However, it’s usually better to learn prepositions as part of a collocation or word partnership. For example, we use in in partnership with the adjective interested: I’m interested in musical theatre.
How do you find the correct preposition? You can probably guess our answer: look in a learner’s dictionary.
Here’s the Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary entry for interested. Notice the bold words in the first example sentence.
Or, this is what the Macmillan English Dictionary says about interested. Again, interested in is in bold.
Now you have opened these two learner’s dictionaries, try this exercise. Each of the sentences use the verb work in partnership with one of the prepositions in the box. If you don’t know the answer, don’t guess, look in a dictionary.
1. They work ____ a large pharmaceutical firm in Switzerland.
2. She works ____ a software developer.
3. For the last three months, we’ve been working ____ a project in Canada.
4. It’s a multinational company. I work ____ people from all over the world.
5. When he graduates, he hopes to work ____ the film industry.
6. Do you work ____ London?
No, I work ____ Head Office in Edinburgh.
7. Before she moved to Sales, she worked ____ the Production Department.
The correct answers are at the bottom of this page. After you check them, think about the word partnerships in the exercise that you didn’t know. Are they useful to you? If they are, you need to learn them. Modify the sentences from the exercise and make them about you and your job. Think of situations in your life in which you could use those sentences.
Here are a few more learner’s dictionaries:
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
1. They work for a large pharmaceutical firm in Switzerland.
2. She works as a software developer.
3. For the last three months, we’ve been working on a project in Canada.
4. It’s a multinational company. I work with people from all over the world.
5. When he graduates, he hopes to work in the film industry.
6. Do you work in London?
No, I work at Head Office in Edinburgh.
7. Before she moved to Sales, she worked in the Production Department.
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