The definition of "categorize" in merriam-webster:

:to put into a category

After the definition let's take a look at some examples (in merriam-webster):

This software lets you categorize your photographs in many different ways.

Their opinions can be categorized as conservative.

Birds are categorized by type in this field guide

I tried to make my own sentence, but I'm confused which prepositions I should use?:

we can categorize them into/in/in to two main categories.

I wondering is there any kind of dictionary that can help us finding proper prepositions?

  • What about how something is categorized? Ex: The software was categorized in many ways, e.g., after(?) age, purpose, and maintenance cost. Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 7:32

2 Answers 2


The way these prepositions are used in these examples has nothing to do with the fact that "categorize" occurs in the sentence.

  • 1: "in" is part of the adverbial phrase "in many different ways". This could be apt for a multitude of main verbs. "He painted in many different ways." "they walked in many different ways". There's nothing special here with regard to using "in" with "categorize", even though they are collocated.

  • 2: this is a shorter adverbial phrase "as conservative". If I inderstand the terminology, "as" links a stative verb with its predicate adjective. This usage fits a narrower range of main verbs, such as "viewed", "seen", "tagged", "understood". (See http://www.google.com/search?q=define+as&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en , meaning 1 for prepositional use of "as")

  • 3: "in this field guide" is, as in #1, an adverbial phrase that could be applied to many verbs. "There are many pictures in this field guide." "John Muir was quoted in this field guide." As in #1, there's nothing instructive here with regard to using "in" with "categorize", but in this example they are not collocated; "in" is NOT being used WITH "categorized".

But what you should have noticed, and bolded, in this example, is by—this is the preposition associated with "categorized". In this example, "by" is used in the third bulleted meaning under the #3 sense for the Preposition ("parameter") HERE http://www.google.com/search?q=define+as&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&#hl=en&q=define+by

A few verbs that collocate with "by" in this sense (I'm sure there must be more):

  • sort by ...

  • classify by ...

  • organize by...

  • assign to [x] by...

  • group by...

  • alphabetize by {name/state/city/etc}

In such cases "by" can be understood as rougly equivalent to "according to".


Yes: a collocations dictionary. The best:

Oxford Collocations Dictionary for Students of English

The BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English: Your guide to collocations and grammar.

I tried to make my own sentence, but I'm confused which prepositions I should use?

A very good way to find your way by yourself is as follows:

Go to Google Books (much better than vanilla Google in that it contains published and edited books).

Take the critical core of you sentences, and search for the various permutations:

"categorize them into two"

About 1,010 results

"categorize them in two"

About 86 results

"categorize them in to two"

1 result

Choose the combinations supported by the majority, they have the best chance of being considered as idiomatic. The first two phrasings seem the first here.

Study some of the results, check that they are written by native speakers, see if they seem close to your application and that they flow well.

  • Downvoted? I provided to the OP the best sources for collocations and a realistic method of detecting them. OK, no prob. Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 18:14
  • I didn't vote down, but can't accept as an answer because I was expected explanation about "categorize" and its preposition.
    – Ham3d
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 20:14

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