Misuse of prepositions

Writing Tips >> Misuse of Prepositions

Prepositions need to be chosen carefully to correctly show spatial, time, and logical relationships. Many nouns are usually followed by particular prepositions. The following table shows some common mistakes in choosing prepositions for nouns.

1.     an approach to reducing costs
  an approach for reducing costs
4.     the change in the structure
  the change of the structure
2.     an example of the decay
  an example for the decay
5.     the increase in the temperature
  the increase of the temperature
3.     the cause of the change
  the cause for the change
6.     the reason for the energy loss
  the reason of the energy loss


Prepositions may be followed by noun phrases to form prepositional phrases (e.g. in the experiment). A main purpose of using prepositional phrases is to accurately and clearly describe an object, which often contains multiple characteristics, features, or parameters (e.g. the number of particles in an atom).

However, too many prepositional phrases often make a sentence wordy, reducing the readability. The following two examples are laden with prepositions (highlighted in red) and can be trimmed by using different techniques.


Original Sentences

1 The thickness of glass, type of glass, and duration of the load have influences on the performance of a laminated glass plate.
2 The aim of this paper was to investigate the changes in terms of structure in laminated glass using a range of materials of an interlayer nature.


Trimming Techniques Original Phrases Improved Phrases/Words
Make a brief noun string
  • thickness of glass
  • type of glass
  • duration of the load
  • performance of a laminated glass plate
  • glass thickness
  • glass type
  • load duration
  • laminated glass plate performance
Use the verb form
  • have influences on · aim of this paper was
  • influence
  • This paper aimed
Use the adjectival form
  • changes in terms of structure
  • structural changes
Use a synonym
  • a range of
  • different


Improved Sentences

1 The glass thickness, glass type, and load duration influence the laminated glass plate performance.
2 The paper aimed to investigate the structural changes in laminated glass using different interlayer materials.

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