Archive for the ‘Common Mistakes’ Category

Some commonly confused verbs and prepositions

January 4th, 2014 in Common Mistakes

Prepositions cause a great deal of confusion for ESL students.

In this lesson we will explain the correct usage of some common prepositions.


The words except and accept are often confused.

Except is a preposition. It means ‘not including’.

Everybody came except John. (John didn’t come.)

Accept, on the other hand, is a verb.

I accept this award with great pleasure.

A preposition should be followed by a noun that acts as its object. A verb, too, can be followed by a noun or noun phrase that acts as its object. However, verbs and prepositions have very different grammatical properties. Note that a verb does not have to take an object all the time. Verbs that do not take objects are called intransitive verbs. A preposition, on the other hand, needs an object.


The word past can be used as a preposition. Passed, on the other hand, is a verb.

He passed his test.

The word passed can also be used to refer to the act of distributing an item.

She passed the salt.

The word past can be used as a preposition, and an adverb.

As a preposition

It is past your bedtime.
I went past his house.

Note that when past is used as a preposition, it will be followed by a noun.

As an adverb

An old man walked past.

When past is used as an adverb, it is not followed by a noun.


Into is a preposition. It is usually written as one word.

King Midas could turn everything he touched into gold.