Further Tips to Understand Prepositional Collocations


Prepositional collocation occurs when particular words like nouns, adjectives, and verbs behave together with certain prepositions. This means that there are special words in nouns, verbs, and adjectives that can be used with certain prepositions. Consider further illustrations below.


Write to is used to divulge the ideas of someone to someone else through writing. For example:

(i)      I will write to you tomorrow about the issue.

(ii)     Bade wrote to me last week on that matter.

Writing against is used to oppose someone by another person through writing, such as a petition, etc. For example:

(i)      My boss wrote against me that I was an indolent man.

(ii)     Roseline’s principal wrote against her for their usual lateness to work.

Write about is used to indicate issues, concepts, matter, etc. For example:

(i)      The English teacher writes about inadequate textbooks of language in school.

(ii)     The philosopher is writing about epistemology.

‘Inadequate textbooks of language’ is the issue that English language teachers write about. ‘Epistemology’ is also the issue that ‘the philosopher’ is writing about.

Write in is used to refer to writing materials like paint or ink, etc. For example:

(i)      Your answers must be written in blue ink.


Suffer from is used for ‘someone; to denote ‘illness’ ‘sickness’ or ‘poverty’. For example:

(i)      Molade is suffering from cancer.

(ii)     Bolaji’s family often suffers from financial penury.

The sentence (i) means that Molade derives her suffering from cancer.

The sentence (ii) means that Bolaji’s family derives its suffering from financial penury.

Suffer for is used for someone to denote offenses, crimes, ignorance, etc. For example,

(i)      Those students are suffering for cheating people.

(ii)     This boy always suffers for stealing money in the classroom.

‘Suffer for’ sometimes means ‘being punished’ for certain crimes or offenses.

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Apologise to is applicable to ‘someone’ or ‘something’ that someone has done wrong. For example:

(i)      I apologise to you for not attending the meeting.

(ii)     The students were apologising to their principal for involving themselves in examination malpractices.

In this context, it is wrong to say:

(i)      ‘I apologise you for…’

(ii)     ‘The students involved apologise their principal…’

Apologise for is applicable to ‘something’, which refers to wrongdoings. For example:

(i)      Thomas apologised for disrespecting me yesterday.

(ii)     The management apologises for not paying the salaries of their staff on time.


Look at is used for ‘someone’ or ‘something’ which means to ‘glance at’. For example:

(i)      I look at page 2 of the book to write out some words.

(ii)     That man is occasionally looking at a beautiful lady.

Look for is used to refer to ‘someone’ or ‘something’ which means ‘to search for’. For example:

(i)      Busayo is looking for the missing money in the room.

(ii)     Jesus looks for the lost sheep’s whereabouts.

(iii)    I have been looking for you, Sola.

Look into is used to refer to ‘something’ or ‘someone’ which means ‘to examine’. For example:

(i)      The students should look into the passage very well in order to answer the questions that follow.

(ii)     Can you, please, look into the following examples for better understanding?

Look after is used to mean ‘take care of’. For example:

(i)      Mr. Festus always looks after his wife.

(ii)     Martins has decided to look after his father’s property.


Arrive at is used to refer to ‘small places’ of the ‘large place’. For example:

(i)      I arrived at the airport by 4.00 pm.

(ii)     It was almost dark before Wole could arrive at the party.

‘The airport’ and ‘the party’ are small parts of the large places.

Arrive in is used to refer to ‘large places’ such as cities, countries, etc. For example:

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(i)      The man has arrived in Lagos.

(ii)     My parents have arrived in London.

Now, compare ‘Lagos’ and ‘London’ with ‘airport’ and ‘party’, to discover that ‘Lagos’ and ‘London’ are larger than those of ‘airport’ and ‘party’. For this reason, it is correct to say:

(i)      ‘…arrive in the airport’

(ii)     ‘…arrive in the party’

(iii)    ‘…arrive at Lagos’

(iv)    ‘…arrive at London’

Arrive on is used to refer to an issue, a matter, etc. For example:

(i)      The chairman has arrived on the issue of armed robbery in our area.

(ii)     Be calm! I will arrive on the matter you discussed with me yesterday.

‘Arrive on’ suggests ‘to work on or ‘to take a step on’


Talk to is used for ‘someone’ to disclose ideas, opinions, views, etc. in utterance. For example:

(i)      Sit down, let me talk to you.

(ii)     My younger sister often talks to our parents politely.

Talk about is used to refer to ‘an issue’, ‘a person’, or ‘a something. For example,

(i)      Amaka is talking about prostitution on campuses.

(ii)     Kola talks about Eke’s bad behavior.

Talk against is used to oppose ‘someone’ or ‘something’ like a person, an action, an idea, etc. in utterance. For example:

(i) Mr. Eze talks against my bad attitude before my parents.

(ii)     I talked against you because you were arrogant.


Frown at is used for ‘someone’ or ‘something’ that someone has done wrong. For example:

(i)      The management has frowned at the lazy habits of the staff.

(ii)     My father frowns at me for maltreating my sister

‘Frown at’ means to be angry, worried, and serious about something.

Frown on is used to mean ‘disapproved of’. For example:

(i)      My request was frown on by the Board of Governors.

(ii)     The country’s budget was frown on by the Senate.


Sit for is used for ‘someone’ or ‘something’ in the position of someone, especially in examinations. For example:

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(i)      Bayo sat for me for almost two months.

(ii)     I sat for my final exams.

‘sat for’ means to occupy the official position of something or someone.

Sit on is applicable to an ‘issue’ or ‘something’. For example:

(i)      The house sat on the deliberation of the country’s power supply.

(ii)     Henly sat on a table.

Sit in is used to refer to a person or a member of people in a particular position. For example:

(i)      All the candidates are asked to sit in during the examination.

(ii)     Deolu was allowed to sit in during the staff meeting.

‘sit in’ in the sentence means to sit in the examination hall for exams.

‘sit in’ in sentence (ii) means to sit among the staff holding a meeting.


Bargain with is used to refer to ‘someone’. For example:

(i)      She was prepared to bargain with the seller over the price.

(ii)     For almost twenty minutes, I have been bargaining with madam on the price of shoes.

Bargain for/on is used to expect something to happen in negative sentences. For examples:

(i)      I didn’t bargain for the result like this.

(ii)     We hadn’t bargained on mourning now.

We have discussed further prepositional collocations. If you need further studies about the topic, you can learn more here.

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