4 Preposition Mistakes Even Native English Speakers Make

Prepositions are one of the hardest lessons to learn in English. This is especially true if you speak English as a second language. A preposition is basically a word, or a group of words used prior to a noun, noun phrase, or pronoun for the purpose of introducing an object or showing time, place, direction, location, or spatial relationships.

English language learning requires a mastery of prepositions. However, although they are used commonly in day-to-day conversations, a lot of people still find it difficult to determine which proposition to use in a certain situation and how to use it the right way. This is mainly due to the fact that there are many prepositions with several different uses.

If you are among the numerous people who have trouble mastering English prepositions, this article is right for you! Here are 4 of the most common preposition mistakes even native English speakers make from time to time.

1. “In”, “On”, and “At” When Referring to a Time or Date

Depending on the scenario or situation, various prepositions are utilised when referring to a time or date. If you are particularly referring to a time of day, the right preposition to use is “at.” For example: “The event starts at 5 PM.” On the other hand, for a particular day or date, the correct term to use is “on,” such as “The event is on Sunday.” Lastly, when pertaining to a month or year, the proper preposition is “in,” such as “We are hosting the event in December.”

2. “In” and “At” VS “To” When Referring to a Place of Arrival

When talking about journeys, you can make use of the preposition “to,” such as “I am going to Singapore.” However, if you use the word “arrive” in your sentence, the prepositions you should use to describe the act of reaching a destination are either “in” or “at.”

For example: “She arrived in Singapore just before the event” or “She arrived at the venue a few minutes earlier.” Whether to utilise “in” or “at” ordinarily depends on the destination. For cities, countries, and other big areas, the right preposition is usually “in.” On the other hand, for particular places like a restaurant, library, or someone’s home, the correct preposition to use is “at.”

3. “Have” VS “Of”

One of the most common grammar mistakes that a lot of people make is to use the preposition “of” alongside helper verbs like “must” or “should.” For instance: “I should of gone to the event earlier.” This is obviously an error because the correct word to use here is not even a preposition. Instead, it must be the verb “have,” which has a similar sound to “of,” hence the confusion. Therefore, it should be: “I should have gone to the event earlier.”

4. “Since” VS “For”

When referring to a particular time when something began occurring, the preposition you should use is “since.” For example: “I have been preparing for the event since this morning.” However, if you are talking about how long something has been occurring, the correct preposition to use is “for,” such as “I have been preparing for the event for eight hours.” The distinction here is that the first preposition pertains to a fixed point in the past when an activity started, while the second one refers to a measure of time. 


It goes without saying that prepositions are quite tricky. They are sometimes so complicated that even native English speakers have trouble using them correctly. By knowing what mistakes people commonly make when using prepositions, you can pay more attention to them and avoid committing them the next time you need to use a preposition in your sentence. If you are about to take an English proficiency exam like the IELTS, then you have more reason to master your prepositions!

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