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I read a document regarding to prepositions in English grammar and at the very beginning of this document, it mentions, only way to know the verb "dispose" is followed by the preposition "of" is through experience. It almost sounded like there are no grammatical rules for the topic prepositions and I must experience every single one of them in order to master this subject. Are there recommended path ways to learn deeply about prepositions?

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Well, you just outlined the recommended path way yourself: learn them all by heart. That's what all native speakers (have to) do. And not just in English. –  RegDwigнt Jul 9 '13 at 8:38
    
That being said, asking about general ways to improve one's English is off-topic here. english.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic –  RegDwigнt Jul 9 '13 at 8:40
    
Have you looked at English Language Learners? –  TrevorD Jul 9 '13 at 11:48
    
It is definitely off-topic here. Sorry =D... –  TemporaryNickName Jul 9 '13 at 14:27
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closed as off-topic by RegDwigнt Jul 9 '13 at 8:40

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1 Answer

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It may be helpful to distinguish between 1.) prepositions that introduce a noun or pronoun phrase and 2.) prepositions that are part of a fixed noun, verb or adjective expression.

In the first group are the very common prepositions of time and place, which do exhibit some patterns that can be learned. For example, we say:

at a time: at 7.30pm

on a day: on Tuesday

in a part of the day: in the morning

in a month or year: in May - in 1992

to a place: to New York - to the beach

There are other useful patterns in this first category that can be learned, such as:

by car, by bus, by bike

But even within these established patterns there are exceptions and pitfalls. For example, we say in the morning/afternoon/evening, but at night. British native speakers are likely to say at the weekend whereas Americans commonly say on the weekend. You can say you went to the beach by car but not by my car.

In the second category are noun, verb and adjective phrases such as fear of, dispose of, fond of. Again, there are one or two patterns that might be helpful to know. For example, evaluative adjectives are usually followed by of:

It was kind/good/silly/clever/naughty/rude .. of .. you to say that.

But in general prepositional use in this category is idiomatic and has to be learned case by case. It is common, for example, for adjectives to be followed by different prepositions dependent on the meaning. For example, you usually laugh about something but you laugh at somebody.

And one further complication is that prepositions very often do not translate correctly from the foreign language into English. For example, English has allergic to whereas in German it is allergisch gegen (against). Indeed, often English will use a preposition where the foreign language does not, or conversely. For example:

English: I listened to music. German: Ich hörte Musik.

English: I went home. German: Ich ging nach Hause.

So, in summary, the document you refer to is basically correct. You have to learn the use of prepositions case by case. A good policy is to be alert to prepositions when you are reading or listening to English, and to invest in a good dictionary to use when writing.

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You should also be aware that there are identical-looking constructions to 'verb + preposition' structures that are regarded as multi-word verbs. He went through the tunnel. (verb + preposition) He went through his notes. (multi-word verb) –  Edwin Ashworth Jul 9 '13 at 9:24
    
Thank you for the great answer, I think it is better for me to study and become fluent at some of those established patterns first before talking about exceptions and pitfalls. –  TemporaryNickName Jul 9 '13 at 14:23
    
There are almost certainly more multi-word verb constructions than verb + preposition constructions in common use in English. –  Edwin Ashworth Jul 9 '13 at 16:05
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