June 25

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5 Advanced Verb Preposition Collocations Properly Explained

You’re listening to Cambridge Exam Coach, a podcast for ambitious learners of English. This is the show where you can prepare for your Cambridge exam at the same time as improving your English.

I’m Kristian, your host, today it’s Sunday 27 June 2021, and in this episode we’re going to be talking about on of my favorite subjects: prepositions. To be more specific, we’re going to look at 5 verb preposition combinations, sometimes also called prepositional verbs. Are you ready? Here we go!

Hello dear dear listeners, how are you doing? I hope you’re doing great. It’s been above 30 degrees for 6 days straight here in Prague, and simply put, I’m completely fed up with this scorching heat. I’m sorry guys, I’m not one of those people who loves these boiling temperatures. I prefer the weather we usually get in late autumn and early spring.

Anyway, let’s not get off on a tangent, let’s focus on the topic of today’s podcast. In this episode you’re going to learn how to use 5 prepositional verbs that start with an ‘A’. Come again? What did you say, Kristian? Prepositional verbs AKA verb + preposition collocations.

Just to be clear, I’m not going to be talking about phrasal verbs. That’s a different topic altogether. Let me explain that before we continue.

In English, many verbs are followed by prepositions and adverbs. In some cases these combinations are called ‘phrasal verbs’, while in other cases they are verb preposition collocations. So, what’s the difference then?

A prepositional verb is a verb that is followed by a preposition. The meaning of these two words together is usually very similar to the original meaning of the verb. For example,

To worry
To worry about (someone or something)

On the other hand, the meaning of a phrasal verb is often different to the original meaning of the main verb. For example,

To get
To get on a bus
To get on well with somebody

You see? Phrasal verbs also use adverbs as well as prepositions, whereas prepositional verbs do not.

Alright, that’s clear then.

We all know that prepositions are one of the most difficult aspects of English grammar and vocabulary. That’s also why they are hard to teach. They don’t conform to easy-to-teach rules, like many other aspects of grammar. Instead, it’s about patterns and collocations.

So, often the best way to learn these verb preposition collocations is to see them as chunks of vocabulary, and try to notice them as they are used naturally. In this episode the idea is to give you a chance to do that by listening to real sentences taken from the Longman dictionary online as well as my own personal example sentences.

I’m planning to do the following:

I’ve prepared a short list of five verb prepositions that start with an A. You can check them out in the transcript of this episode, which you can find on my website cambridgeexamcoach.com, if you like.

I’m not just going to read out the list. That would be boring and not that useful. I’m going to give you many example sentences to make it more entertaining and useful.

One more thing before I start.

Prepositional verbs are really useful to know because using the right preposition after a verb makes you sound very fluent. So when you learn new verbs, pay attention if they need to be followed by a particular preposition. As you can see from the examples in this episode, the meaning often changes according to the preposition you use.

The list

Accuse (someone) of ([doing] something)

Meaning: To say that you believe someone is guilty of a crime or of doing something bad.

Example: He accused her of stealing the money.
Another example: Her mother accused her of lying.

Passive example: He was accused of murder.

Beware! You accuse someone OF doing something:
They accused him of cheating.
✗Don’t say: accuse someone to do something

Bonus expression for you: The professor stands accused of (=has been accused of) stealing his student’s ideas and publishing them.

Funny anecdote: I stand accused of being born without a silver spoon, a lyric from one of my favorite bands, the Verve. Born with a silver spoon: to have a high social position and be rich from birth.

Adapt to

First meaning: To gradually change your behaviour and attitudes in order to be successful in a new situation.

Example: The children are finding it hard to adapt to the new school.
Another example: I need to buy flowers which are well adapted to harsh winters

Adapt yourself/itself etc (to something)
How do these animals adapt themselves to warmer environments?

Second meaning: To change something to make it suitable for a different purpose, so to adapt something to do something.

Example: Generally speaking, teaching materials which are used to teach teenagers can be adapted for adults.

Passive example: The gas station has been adapted for electric vehicles.

Third meaning: If a book or play is adapted for film, television etc, it is changed so that it can be made into a film, television programme , etc → adaptation

So then we use the structure “Be adapted for something”.
Example: Many people buy books after they have been adapted for film.

Adjust to
Meaning: To gradually become familiar with a new situation SYN adapt

Example sentence: It took a few seconds for her eyes to adjust to the darkness.

So in this case we say “Adjust to doing something”
My parents had trouble adjusting to living in an apartment.

Caveat: In everyday English, people usually say get used to rather than adjust (to): You’ll soon adjust. → You’ll soon get used to it.

Admire (someone) for ([doing] something)

First meaning: To respect and like someone because they have done something that you think is good, or to respect their qualities or skills.

Example sentence: I really admire her for the way she brings up her four kids all on her own.
Another example sentence: Lewis was much admired for his work on medieval literature.

Admire is not used in the progressive. You say:
I admire him for his courage (=I respect and like him).
✗Don’t say: I am admiring him.

Second meaning: To find someone or something attractive and pleasant to look at:
We stood for a few moments, admiring the view.
I was just admiring your jacket, Liza.

Admit to

Meaning: To say that you have done something wrong, especially something criminal, so to admit to (doing) something

Example: A quarter of all workers admit to taking time off when they are not ill.
Another example: After questioning, he admitted to the murder.

Appeal to SO for ST

Meaning:An urgent request for something important

Appeal to
Example: Lobby organizations from many different sectors have sent urgent appeals to the government, asking for extra funding to survive the current crisis.

Appeal to somebody to do something
Example: An appeal to the army to not use too much force.

One bonus verb which most of you will know and understand, but I just want to end this episode with this familiar word that sometimes still confuses some people.

Arrive in/at
You arrive in a city or country:
We arrived in London at 2 a.m.

You arrive at a place such as a house, hotel, or airport:
They arrived at the airport at 10.30.

OK over to you: when was the last time you admired something are somebody? How do you adapt yourself to a warmer climate? And have you ever accused somebody of doing something? Try to answer these questions and create some examples sentences on your own. You’ll see that you’ll memorize these verb collocations much better!

Alright, that’s a wrap! As ever, I hope this has been both useful and interesting for you and that you’ve enjoyed listening to this episode.

If you have any questions, thoughts, or feedback, you can respond via email or in the comment section of the transcript. I read and respond to every email or comment. 🙂

Before we finish, let me tell you that we are launching our C1 exam preparation courses this week. This is something that has been in the pipeline for a while, and finally, right here, right now, we’re ready to announce our courses to the whole world.

Our exam courses are not generic pre-recorded video recordings, but real live classes on Zoom. We truly believe you get the best exam preparation possible with personalised, real human guidance, so we don’t use pre-recorded videoclips in our courses.

So, if you want to be completely confident and fully prepared for your Cambridge exam, do check out our new website cambridgeexamcoach.com, where you can find all the information you need about our courses.

OK, that’s it. As always, take care of yourself, and each other, alright?

Speak to you soon, bye bye!

About the author 

Kristian

Kristian is from The Netherlands, but he lives in Prague, Czechia. He is a CELTA qualified teacher who passed the Cambridge C2 Proficiency exam with grade A. When he's not working, he likes to chill out with music, podcasts or an audiobook.


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  • I admire my colleague for dealing with tasks that seem extremely difficult to me. I adapt myself to a warmer climate by drinking water with plenty of ice cubs. When I was young I accused my brother of stealing my toys 😀 Thanks for this episode!

    • Nice one Dominika! Many thanks for your sentences 🙂
      I also drink plenty of water but without ice cubes. Instead, I put small bottles of water in the freezer 🙂

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