A common mistake we see while proofreading is incorrect use of prepositions. Although short, these words are vital for creating grammatical sentences. As such, we’re looking at two you may see every day: “for” and “on.”
What Are Prepositions?
Prepositions are words that specify a relationship between a noun and another word in a sentence. For example:
Kate is going to the class.
In this sentence, the preposition “to” tells us where Kate is going by linking the verb “going” with the noun “class.” The trouble is that many prepositions have various uses, which can make picking the right word difficult.
But if you can remember some of the main uses of “for” and “on,” you’ll find it much easier to express your intentions clearly.
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Covering or being in contact with a surface (e.g., You have ink on your shirt.)
Something will occur at a specific time (e.g., The game is on Friday.)
Being positioned above or atop something (e.g., The lizard sat on the rock.)
Using something, often a machine (e.g., He’s always on the phone!)
Something is dependent on something (e.g., She’s on life support.)
Immediately after (e.g., On realizing their mistake, they took action.)
About or concerning (e.g., I wrote my thesis on lexical ambiguity.)
Via a medium, particularly electronic media (e.g., I saw it on TV.)
The state of something (e.g., The roof is on fire!)
Direction or location (e.g., Stop when you see the fire station on your left.)
Paid for or supported by (e.g., Students often live on a limited budget.)
As above, this list isn’t complete since “on” is a very flexible word. That why it’s good to practice using prepositions until you’re familiar with their meanings! Having someone check your work for misplaced prepositions is a good idea, too, as you can learn from their feedback.