Single preposition verbs
A great number of verbs in English can be modified by the addition
of a preposition. Often the preposition will nuance, or even
dramatically change, the meaning of the base verb. The meanings are
often idiomatic, and the meaning expressed by any given preposition
may be very different from one verb to another.
It would be impossible to list all such verbs here (but you will
find them in the dictionary itself). These examples will suffice to
provide an illustration of the principle:
- to speak -- to say words
- to speak up -- to speak loudly
- to speak down (to someone) -- to be condescending toward someone
- to speak for (someone) -- to speak in someone's place
- to put -- to set down
- to put up -- to place up high
- to put up -- to put in jars or cans
- to put away -- to put something back where it belongs
- to put down -- to release one's grasp of something
- to put out -- to place outside, or to take outside
- to put on -- to wear
- to turn -- to twist
- to turn on -- to make something function (a light, a motor)
- to turn off -- to remove the power to (a light, a motor)
- to turn around -- to turn to face the opposite direction
- to turn up -- to augment the sound, the light
- to turn down -- to diminish the sound, the light
- to turn out -- to become
- to turn red, white, etc. -- to change colors
When the sentence includes a noun object, the object will
follow the preposition; if the object is replaced by a
pronoun, the pronoun precedes the preposition:
- He turned on the television.
- He turned it on.
- She put away her books.
- She put them away.
Multiple preposition verbs
There are many prepositional verbs that take two
- to put up with (something, someone) -- to tolerate someone
- to go out with -- to accompany someone
- to go off on (a digression, an adventure) -- to begin, to start
- to run away from -- to flee
When the verb is followed by two prepositions, the object follows
the two prepositions, whether the object is a noun or a pronoun:
- How can you put up with him?
- Bill should not go out with Monica.
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Copyright Ultralingua 2002