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  1. #1
    Hugo_Lin is offline Junior Member
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    Default Prepositions: What a big headache!!


    Attention:
    I reposted some of my unanswered questions in the #23 posts (page 3). Please have a look at it. And I might update this thread on a regular basis, would keep it preposition-only. Will new updates be answered? Do I need to start new threads?
    Thanks for all answerers in advance.

    Hi, native speaker friends:


    I've always found prepositions hard to learn. Most of the time the question is which one to use, but sometimes I'm not even sure whether or not to use a preposition at all! Here's an example:
    I have a lot to do at this weekend.
    I have a lot to do in this weekend.
    I have a lot to do this weekend.


    Other examples being:
    He sits on the front row.
    He plays violin at the front row.
    Sarah will be playing piano in/on/at the concert.---which one is correct?
    Two men stood in the street.
    Two men stood on the street.
    I'm making a great effort refraining myself from slapping her on the face.
    I'm making a great effort to refrain myself from slapping her on the face.

    I thought he was at school.
    He studied french in school.

    what's the difference between shortbread and shortcake?
    What's the difference of shortbread and shortcake?

    I find this problem very disturbing. Please help. Thanks.


    BTW, are there rules to follow? Do you native speakers also find it hard to grasp prepositions?


    Many thanks in advance.
    Last edited by Hugo_Lin; 20-Nov-2012 at 11:51.

  2. #2
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Prepositions: What a big headache!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugo_Lin View Post
    Hi, native speaker friends:


    I've always found prepositions hard to learn. Most of the time the question is which one to use, but sometimes I'm not even sure whether or not to use a preposition at all! Here's an example:
    I have a lot to do at this weekend.
    I have a lot to do in this weekend.
    I have a lot to do this weekend.
    "At the weekend" or "this weekend" without a preposition.

    Other examples being:
    He sits on the front row. Possible.
    He plays violin at the front row. "In" or "on".
    Sarah will be playing piano in/on/at the concert.---which one is correct? "in" or "at".
    Two men stood in the street. OK
    Two men stood on the street. OK
    I'm making a great effort refraining myself from slapping her on the face.
    I'm making a great effort to refrain myself from slapping her on the face. "in the face".

    I thought he was at school.
    He studied French in school. Both are possible.

    what's the difference between shortbread and shortcake?
    What's the difference of shortbread and shortcake?

    I find this problem very disturbing. Please help. Thanks.


    BTW, are there rules to follow? Do you native speakers also find it hard to grasp prepositions? No.


    Many thanks in advance.
    There are no rules. It's just the way we say things.

  3. #3
    Hugo_Lin is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Prepositions: What a big headache!!

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    There are no rules. It's just the way we say things.
    Many thanks, Mr./Mrs. bhaisahab. :)

    But I meant to ask:
    I'm making a great effort refraining myself from slapping her in the face.
    I'm making a great effort to refrain myself from slapping her in the face.

    "I'm making a great effort doing something" or "I'm making a great effort to do something. "

    My English teacher(not a native speaker) says only the latter(to do) is acceptable. But the former one sounds natural to me too.

    And:
    what's the difference between shortbread and shortcake?
    What's the difference of shortbread and shortcake?
    between or of, which one is good?

    I know I ask too many questions. *blushes*

    Deep bows,

    Hugo

  4. #4
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Prepositions: What a big headache!!

    As I said in my previous response on another thread, there is absolutely no reason to attempt to address people using the "Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms" titles. It is sufficient to just use their username. So the first sentence of your previous post would have been perfectly acceptable as "Many thanks, bhaisahab". We do understand that the culture in some countries is to always use a title, but this is an English forum and English culture and traditions generally apply. Apart from anything else, it doesn't make any difference what gender the people who help out are. We are all the same - volunteer people. Please use only the username from now on. Thank you.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  5. #5
    Hugo_Lin is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Prepositions: What a big headache!!

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    As I said in my previous response on another thread, there is absolutely no reason to attempt to address people using the "Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms" titles....
    Hi, emsr2d2:

    I used title before I saw your posts. Note the time. Won't use them again. ;)

  6. #6
    TheParser is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Prepositions: What a big headache!!

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello, Mr. Lin:

    I have been speaking only English for 75 years, and prepositions still confuse me, too. I know how you feel.

    Here are a few points that may be of interest:

    1. Many years ago, two English brothers, the Fowlers, reminded us that prepositions are a matter of idiom.

    They said that dictionaries and grammar books cannot give us all the answers. The Fowler brothers said that

    if we wish to use the "correct" preposition, there is one essential thing: "good reading." In other words, you need to

    read widely and, I may add, keep notes on the use of various prepositions. To make the situation more "fun," please

    accept the fact that prepositions may be different from country to country and even within a country.

    a. In the United States, we live on a street. I believe that British people are usually said to live in a street. While most Americans do not work on the weekend, most Brits rest at the weekend.

    b. Here in California, we stand in line, but New Yorkers stand on line.

    c. As the Fowler brothers said, prepositions are idiom (the way native speakers have decided to speak). Therefore, they

    change with the times. When I was young, "everybody" said "The baby is on his mother's lap." I have noticed that nowadays

    many Americans say "in his mother's lap."

    i. I read several years ago that there is a "war" going on between "in" and "on." That is, one of them is taking over the work

    of the other one. But I forget which one is winning.

    d. We would say "The protesters are rioting in the street" (because they are actually marching in the area that we call a street), but we say (in the United States) "In December, you see a lot of people on the streets" (that is, on the sidewalks). If they were "in" the street, they would get hit by automobiles!

    e. Should I be respectful of my teacher or respectful to my teacher? I think that "to" may be winning the "war."

    f. I think that one still asks a question/ favor of someone. (Not "to.")


    *****

    Well, I think that you get the point. Prepositions are very confusing. The only way to learn them is to dive into the language through wide reading and careful listening to English speakers.

    One last example (I could continue forever): One day I was astonished (a little shocked) when I read a British newspaper

    say something like:


    "The Times newspaper has been banned in country X. This is the first time for three years that this has happened."

    Americans would have said "in." I later learned that some British are now using "in" in such sentences!


    James

  7. #7
    Odessa Dawn's Avatar
    Odessa Dawn is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Prepositions: What a big headache!!

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    While most Americans do not work on the weekend, most Brits rest at the weekend.

    James

    Over the weekend, Netanyahu said he spoke with a number of leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama.
    More: Netanyahu: Israel 'prepared for a significant expansion' of Gaza operations - CNN.com


    Help me with this dear James, is there any difference between what has been stated in the given text and your example when it comes to over and on.


  8. #8
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Prepositions: What a big headache!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugo_Lin View Post
    Hi, emsr2d2:

    I used title before I saw your posts. Note the time. Won't use them again. ;)
    Sadly, I don't have the time to check the times on each post but I apologise if I appeared to be nagging you without giving time for you to read the relevant posts.

    The irony of the first three words of the The Parser's response in post #6 is not lost on me! (Note, I am aware that The Parser was not being ironic.)
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  9. #9
    TheParser is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Prepositions: What a big headache!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Odessa Dawn View Post

    Over the weekend, Netanyahu said he spoke with a number of leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama.
    More: Netanyahu: Israel 'prepared for a significant expansion' of Gaza operations - CNN.com


    Is there any difference between what has been stated in the given text and your example when it comes to over and on.

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****Hello,


    Thank you for your kind note.

    I shall let a better-informed person answer you.

    I, too, want to know the answer.


    James

  10. #10
    Hugo_Lin is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Prepositions: What a big headache!!

    (The forum loads very slow for me despite my 4M bandwidth. Previous reply got lost on a click. Reposting. But have forgotten some of what I prev)


    Hi, James:
    Hearty thanks for such a detailed explanation. Are the Fowler brothers famous linguists?


    You've given very good general rules there.


    I sometimes google for the correct prepositions. Usually chose the one with the most google results. Just like you said: prepositions is a matter of idiom. So I follow the mass majority.;)


    I also have to ask you not to call me mister. One feels very upset being called mister by a respectable senior gentleman. ;)


    Again, thanks for taking the time to write such a lengthy post. ^_^


    And bows to all answerers.:)




    Hugo

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