English Grammar Step by Step
UNIT 31 - Page 3
Insert the correct preposition in the spaces provided.
When I came in, they were sitting round/around the table.
(They surrounded the table.)
He was sitting on his desk. (He was sitting on top of his desk.)
He was sitting at his desk. (He was sitting on a chair in front
of his desk.)
Peter sits in front of me at school, but he’s so tall that I
cannot see the blackboard. (The opposite of in front of is
behind: I sit behind Peter at school.)
The teacher was in front of/before the class. (The students
were sitting at their desks and the teacher was explaining
something on the blackboard.)
Don’t say that again in front of/before my friends. (ie, in
the presence of my friends.)
My school is a few hundred yards before the town hall. (The
town hall is a few hundred yards farther than my school.)
I’ll use it after you. (You can use it first.)
She didn’t close the door after/behind her. (ie, She left the
door wide open or ajar when she went out of the room or of the
The supermarket is opposite the bank. (= The supermarket is
facing the bank.)
a We love sitting __________ the fire.
b Who was that girl __________ __________ __________ you in
c My house is __________ hers. (She lives across the street.)
d Children, sit __________ the table: we are going to have lunch.
e Please don’t slam the door __________ you.
She works close to/near the post office. (She does not work
far from the post office.)
We were frightened to death because a car driving next to/
beside/alongside ours was zigzagging along the motorway.
(We were driving along the right-hand lane and the other
car, along the left-hand lane.)
They’ve got a house by/next to/beside the sea. (The house is
very close to the sea.)
Victor and Margaret sat beside/next to/by me at the meal.
(Victor was on my right and Margaret, on my left.)
Victor works beside/alongside/with me. (We work together.)
When I told him that he was fired, he came near to/close to
crying/tears. (He nearly/almost cried.)
When she discovered that he was seeing another girl, they were
near to/close to splitting up. (They nearly/almost split up.)
a He sits __________ me at school.
b ‘Do you know Patricia?’
‘Yes, I do. She works __________ me.’
c When I told him that he was an idiot, he came __________
__________ throwing a stone at me.
d ‘Where is Saint James’s Park?’
‘It’s very __________ Victoria Station. (About half a mile
from Victoria Station.)’
e We own a cottage __________ the river. We don’t have a
swimming-pool, but we swim in the river. Its water is
crystal-clear, but a bit chilly.
25 Revision exercise.
a ‘What __________ Susie?’
‘Well, she’s just finished her degree in biology.’
b She lives __________ the pet shop __________ the corner.
Don’t forget to look right before you go __________ the street.
c I have to read an article __________ the Enlightenment.
d I’m on night duty __________ Friday 10th December, but I’ll
be __________ duty __________ the night of Sunday 12th December.
e I’m afraid I can’t answer the phone now. Please leave your
message __________ the bleep.
f ‘How __________ meeting at the bus-stop?’
‘Right! Let’s say __________ half __________ seven.’
g She says that she saw an odd man coming __________ __________
the house __________ seven __________ the evening. He had a scar
__________ his right cheek and wore black. He was carrying an
umbrella __________ his right hand, and seem to be in a hurry.
She thinks he was __________ 40.
h Once __________ a time, there was a man who was extremely rich,
but whom nobody loved, for he was a miser and never helped
i ‘Where’s Mr Hughes?
‘He’s __________ the lake reading a book.’
j He was driving __________ the road when the UFO
appeared. Immediately afterwards, he was made to
get __________ alien spacecraft.
k He was sitting __________ his desk studying for an exam.
l He’s very rich and conceited. He thinks everybody is __________
m __________ the Franco regime, those who opposed his ideas
were liable to suffering many injustices.
n He found something hidden __________ the mattress.
o She’s been __________ the globe. She loves travelling.
p It was great flying __________ the clouds, though the only thing
we could see __________ us was clouds and more clouds.
q I don’t like the people who live __________ us. (We live on
the third floor and they, on the second.)
r Put those books __________ that shelf.
s Did you have a good time __________ your summer holidays?
t I want you here __________ midnight. Do not come __________
midnight or you’ll regret it.
u It happened __________ my birthday.
v I’d like to live __________ a desert island with my family.
w Let’s meet __________ the back of the school.
x My sister is coming to see us __________ Good Friday.
y Who is the person sitting __________ you __________ the photo.
z Don’t cycle __________ each other, as it is very dangerous.
They are against us. (The opposite of this is They are in favour
of us/in our favour.)
They are for abortion. (= They are in favour of abortion.
The opposite of for is against: They are against abortion.)
Don’t worry. We are with you. (= We are on your side.)
My bike is leaning (up) against that tree. (This sentence
means that my bike is beside that tree, but they touch each
other, and the tree supports my bike.)
He loves running against the wind. (ie, in the opposite
direction of the wind.)
Swim with the current! (ie, in the same direction of the
a ‘Are you __________ or __________ our proposal?’
‘I don’t like it, so I’m __________ it.’
b Don’t put that ladder __________ the wall. I’ve just painted
c If we walk __________ the wind, it’ll be less tiring.
d If you decide to do it, we’ll be __________ you all the way.
e Don’t rest your back __________ the fence! Don’t you see the
notice that says, ‘Wet paint’?
Your aunt is between those two girls. (She is sitting in the
middle of the two girls.)
She placed the knife between the spoon and the fork. (She
placed the knife in the middle.)
There is a spider between those apples. (I can see how many
apples there are. There are, say, five apples. Among(st) is
not impossible here.)
Peter’s among(st) the crowd. (It is impossible to tell how
many people there are in the crowd.)
You’re among(st) my best friends. (You are one of my best
a There is distrust __________ our voters. We must tell them
something to calm them dowm.
b He wants to share his fortune __________ the needy.
c He wants to share his fortune __________ his two sons.
d There’s a traitor __________ our men. If we don’t find out
who he is, we’ll be in real trouble, as he may ruin all our
e What’s the difference __________ a cheetah, a leopard and a
jaguar? They all look alike to me!
This letter was written by my little daughter (agent) with
a pencil. (instrument)
Come with us, please. (Join us, please.)
At this moment, she’s with a client. Could you ring back
later? (Now she is busy because she is attending to a client.)
The woman in red is Peter’s mother. (ie, the woman who wears
The lady with the black handbag is my boss. (ie, the one
who carries/has a black handbag.)
We can’t live without water. (ie We need water to live on.)
a There’s so much work at the office that we can’t do __________
b Mr Wright will be __________ you in a minute.
c This hut was built __________ my father.
d He dislikes working __________ a hammer.
e The man __________ a black suit is my daughter’s husband.
He threw a stone at me. (He wanted to hit me.)
He threw the ball to me/He threw me the ball. (He wanted me
to catch it.)
He’s very good (bad, etc.) at football. (He plays football
very well, very badly.)
That little girl is waving at/to you. (Here both at and to can
be used without any real difference in meaning. At might suggest
that you are waving more enthusiastically.)
This is the train for/to London. (ie, The train that goes
She’s heading for Scotland. (ie, She is going to Scotland.)
What do you take me for? (ie, Do you think I am stupid?)
We had to walk for ten miles. (We did not expect to walk so
Let me do it for you. (Let me offer to help you.)
I have a present for you. (I want to give you a present.)
You can have two of these for only one pound. (ie, I can offer
you them at this price.)
a She was very angry with me and shouted __________ me.
b He shouted __________ her to turn off the lights.
c He’s hopeless __________ cooking.
d I bought this __________ very little money.
e They left __________ Portugal early this morning.
Twenty-five plus twenty-five equals (formal)/is (neutral)
fifty. (25 + 25 = 50)
Fifty minus twenty-seven equals/is/leaves (less formal)
twenty-three/Twenty-seven subtracted from fifty equals/
is/leaves (less formal) twenty-three. (50 - 27 = 23)
Five multiplied by four equals/is twenty. (5 x 4 = 20)
Twenty-five divided by five equals/is five. (25 ÷ 5 = 5)
a Forty __________ eighty-six __________ 126. (40 + 86 = 126)
b Multiply nine __________ seven.
c Two hundred and twenty-one __________ twenty-one __________
two hundred. (221 - 21 = 200)
d One hundred divided __________ ten __________ ten. (100 ÷ 10 =
e Ten thousand __________ two thousand __________ eight
thousand. (10,000 - 2,000 = 8,000)
I’m going by car. (by + the means of transport)
I’m going in Molly’s car. (in + a word or phrase + the method
of transport→a private vehicle or a taxi.)
I’m going on the next bus. (on + a word or phrase + a means
of transport→a public vehicle or a bike, a motorcycle, a horse,
Get in/into the car! (The opposite is Get out of the car. If
we do not mention the vehicle, we say Get out.)
I got on/onto/on to the bus and went home. (The opposite
is I got off the bus and went home. Notice also: I got off
and went home.)
I prefer to go on foot. (set phrase)
The people who were travelling on/in that plane were
The people on/in that bus are singing and dancing.
The people in that car are my neighbours.
a Why don’t you get __________ the train now? It will be leaving
the station in a few minutes.
b She hates travelling __________ ship.
c We are going __________ our motor bikes.
d Who was that couple __________ the bus?
e We should go __________ foot, as it’s a good way to keep
32 Revision exercise.
a ‘How are you going to work?’
‘I’m going __________ bike. And you?’
‘I’m going __________ foot.’
b ‘How are you going there?’
‘We’re going __________ our bikes.’
c ‘Come on! Get __________ that horse!’
‘Don’t worry. It’s very tame!’
d She left her moped leaning __________ a wall.
e There’s a spy __________ us. We must do something to find out
who he is.
f The girl __________ green is the girl of my dreams.
g Her house was broken into __________ a neighbour of hers.
h He’s brilliant __________ deceiving people.
i He tossed a sweet __________ the child, as he had been a good
j The audience threw ripe potatoes __________ him, as he
was extremely bad __________ singing.
k Ninety-nine __________ five is ninety-four. (99 - 5 = 94)
l Seven multiplied __________ eight is fifty-six. (7 x 8 = 56)
m Forty divided __________ eight equals five. (40 ÷ 8 = 5)
n They went out together __________ the first time __________ a
cold winter evening __________ January.
o We’ll have to go __________ that bridge if we want to win
p The children sat __________ the ground to play.
q If you speak ill __________ me __________ my back, I won’t be
your friend any more.
r She was near __________ rejecting their offer, but her
friends advised her to take it, and so she did.
s ‘Where’s the ball?’
‘It’s __________ the table __________ your grandfather’s feet.’
t She hit him __________ adjustable spanner because she thought
he was going to attack her.
u The man __________ dark hair and the girl __________ an
umbrella are Richard’s cousins.
v She was constantly grumbling __________ me, which was
w ‘We’d better go __________ tube.’
‘I prefer to go __________ a taxi.’
x She’s __________ nuclear disarment. (She in favour of
y ‘We’ll have to do __________ Nancy today, since she’s ill.’
‘Oh dear! We’re up to our eyes in work.’
z The key is __________ the doormat. If we’re not __________
home, enter the house and wait for us there.
Before is formal.
See the previous footnote.
The opposite is I’ll use it before you.
Opposite and in front of cannot be used interchangeably. If we
say that something or somebody is opposite something or
somebody, there is something between the two things or people,
such as a street. In front of means that there is nothing
between the two things or people:
The supermarket is opposite the bank. (There is a
street between the supermarket and the bank.)
Peter sits in front of me at school. (There is
nothing between us.)
Peter sat opposite me at the table. (I was at the other end
or side of the table.)
Close to can also relate to time: Our wedding anniversary is
close to theirs.
A preposition does not have comparative and superlative forms.
If we can add -er or -est to near, it is because near is an
adverb or an adjective, which is why it is much better to use
the preposition ‘to’ with nearer and nearest:
My girl-friend is the one nearest to the door.
Can you come nearer to me?
The bookshop is very near to my house. (Although the
preposition ‘to’ can be dropped, it is advisable to
keep it in a formal style, as a preposition cannot
be modified by very. If we removed the ‘to’, near
becomes a preposition modified by very.)
Near can also refer to time: We are getting nearer to the
See section 14.
We had to walk ten miles implies that we did not mind it, as
we probably knew that beforehand.
For other uses of for, see units 23 (section 20) and 27
Less formally, we say Twenty-five and twenty-five is/are/
Or less formally, Fifty take away twenty-seven is/leaves
twenty-three. You can also say Fifty less twenty-seven is
twenty-three. Note also: You’ll get a hundred pounds,
less (a) five per cent commission.
Or less formally, Twenty-seven from fifty is/leaves twenty-
Five times four is/makes/equals twenty.
Five fours are twenty. (informal)
Ten times ten thousand is/makes/equals one hundred
thousand. (10 x 10,000 = 100,000)
If you multiply five by four, you get twenty. (5 x 4 =20)
Five into twenty-five is/goes five.
Five divides into twenty-five five times.
Three into eleven will not go.
Two into five is/goes two with one left over.
Two into seven goes three and a half times.
Ten over two is five.
Into is only possible if we mention the word ‘car’: Get in!
You can also say I got into/in the bus and went home, but this
is probably less usual. The opposite of into or in is out of:
I got out of the bus and went home.
I got out and went home. (We do not mention ‘the bus’.)
See section 14.
Author: Miquel Molina i Diez
Pages: 1, 2, 3 and the key
1 Negative and interrogative sentences (Page 2 and the key)
2 Short answers (Page 2 and the key)
3 Question tags (Page 2 and the key)
4 Questions and exclamations (Page 2 and the key)
5 So, neither, nor, either (the key)
6 Be, used to, would, be/get/become used to, dare, have, get, become, grow, go, turn, fall and feel (Page 2 and the key)
7 Verb tenses: forms (Page 2 and the key)
8 Irregular verbs
9 Verb tenses: uses (Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5 and the key)
10 Personal pronouns, possessives and reflexive pronouns (Page 2 and the key)
11 The genitive case (the key)
12 Singular and plural nouns (Page 2 and the key)
13 Gender (the key)
14 A, an, some, any, no, not, none, each, every and the; compounds of some, any, no and every (Page 2, Page 3 and the key)
15 Neither, not...either, none, not...any, both and all (the key)
16 A few, few, a lot, lots, a little, little, many, much, no and plenty (the key)
17 Enough, too, so and such (the key)
18 Comparative and superlative sentences (Page 2 and the key)
19 Adjective order (the key)
20 Relative clauses (Page 2 and the key)
21 Do and make (the key)
22 Modal verbs (Page 2, Page 3 and the key)
23 Infinitives, gerunds and present participles (Page 2 and the key)
24 Conditional sentences (Page 2 and the key)
25 Passive sentences (the key)
26 Reported speech (Page 2 and the key)
27 Purpose (the key)
28 Word order (the key)
29 Inversion (the key)
30 Connectors (Page 2 and the key)
31 Prepositions (Page 2, Page 3 and the key)
32 Phrasal verbs (the key)