Unit 116. Preposition + noun (“by mistake,” “on television,” etc.)

Students often use the wrong preposition before the words in this unit, so study this list carefully:

to pay BY check (but to pay IN cash or to pay cash):

  • Did you pay by check or in cash?

    (to do something) BY accident / BY mistake / BY chance:

  • We hadn’t arranged to meet. We met by chance.

    a play BY Shakespeare / a painting BY Rembrandt / a novel BY Tolstoy, etc.:

  • Have you read any books by Tolstoy? (= any books written by Tolstoy?)

    (to be/to fall) IN love WITH someone:

  • Have you ever been in love with anyone?

    IN (my) opinion:
    ? In my opinion the film wasn’t very good.

    IN time (= soon enough for something/soon enough to do something):

  • Will you be home in time for dinner? (= soon enough for dinner)
  • We got to the station just in time to catch the train.

    ON time (= punctual, not late)

  • The 11:45 train left on time. (= it left at 11:45)
  • The conference was well organized. Everything began on time.

    (to be) ON fire:

  • Look! That car is on fire.

    (to be) ON the telephone / ON the phone:

  • I’ve never met her but I’ve spoken to her on the phone.

    ON television / ON the radio:

  • I didn’t watch the game on television. I listened to it on the radio.

    (to be/to go) ON a diet:

  • I’ve put on a lot of weight. I’ll have to go on a diet.

    (to be/to go) ON strike:

  • There are no trains today. The railroad workers are on strike.

    (to be/to go) ON vacation / ON business / ON a trip / ON a tour / ON a cruise / ON an expedition, etc.

  • Did you go to Paris on business or on vacation?
  • One day I’d like to go on a world tour.

    but you can also say “go to a place FOR a vacation / FOR my vacation”:

  • Tom has gone to France for a vacation.
  • Where are you going for your vacation this year?

    (to go/to come) FOR a walk / FOR a swim / FOR a meal, etc.:

  • She always goes for a walk with her dog in the morning.
  • After work we went to the restaurant for a meal.

    (to have something) FOR breakfast / FOR lunch / FOR dinner:

  • What did you have for lunch?
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