For example:

She put me at ease.

I'm in love.

Put something on hold.

closed as off-topic by Jason Bassford, David, TrevorD, jimm101, TaliesinMerlin Mar 21 at 17:27

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  • Good Question. Start here: "When to Use Which Preposition: Grammar Rules to Live by" paypercontent.net/… (I've not checked the correctness of everything stated in the article, though.) – Kris Feb 28 at 9:41
  • See also related previous posts here on ELU. – Kris Feb 28 at 9:42
  • Basically, practice makes perfect. There is no "rule" here except for things like at a place and on a table. – Lambie Feb 28 at 15:08
  • This Q. is probably more suited to our sister site English Language Learners – TrevorD Feb 28 at 19:46

The choice of prepositions is somewhat arbitrary and, in multiple instances, has changed over time. (Note: "arbitrary" I do not mean that it is completely open to the speaker as to which preposition to use but rather, that there is no clear rule). For example, the Oxford English Dictionary, in the entry for "virtue" shows that it is construed with "by" ("by virtue of"), "in" ("in virtue of") "through" ("through the virtue of"), and even "with" ("with virtue of"). Of note is the fact that each of the entries other that "by virtue" has the additional note "= by virtue", indicating that the meaning of the prepositional phrases are all equivalent to "by virtue". That the choice of preposition has changed over time is indicated by the fact that "with the virtue of" is noted as being an obsolete usage, while "through virtue" is noted as being somewhat rare. Additional date information indicates a slow shift over time.

There is also some indication that the choice of preposition varies with the region from which the speaker comes, and their class. For example, the choice of "by" as the preposition with which to construe "virtue" in expression "by virtue" (as in "He was immune from prosecution by virtue of his position") appears to be a recent development. Previously, and in among the more educated in Britain, "in virtue" was commonly heard.

  • 1
    Please cite your sources. – Kris Feb 28 at 9:35

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