Phrasal verbs alone pose their own challenges. However, another group of verbs that deserves attention in the course of students’ studies is the common combinations of verbs and prepositions. For example, suffer from is not a phrasal verb, but it’s a standard combination. How can students learn such combinations? Multiple encounters certainly help, but active practice clarifies doubts. Here’s a series of short exercises for ten common verb + preposition combinations.
Step 1 – Remind students that a good number of verbs are followed by specific prepositions. These combinations are not considered phrasal verbs but are simply set structures. Write two columns on the board with verbs on the left and prepositions on the right. Give students 1-2 minutes to recall as many matches as possible. Let them work alone, and then correct their work together as a class. Note: They must use each preposition listed only once. Two verbs can be followed by “about”.
Verbs: beg, confess, dream, insist, laugh, play, succeed, suffer, talk, warn
Prepositions: about, about, against, at, for, from, in, on, to, with
ANSWERS: beg for, confess to, dream about, insist on, laugh at, play with, succeed in, suffer from, talk about, warn against
Step 2 – Hand out the next matching activity (Verb and prepositions_handout). Students must match the verb + preposition combinations to the speakers. This can be done in pairs or as solo work.
ANSWERS: 1. suffer from 2. dream about 3. talk about 4. confess to 5. laugh at 6. insist on 7. warn against 8. beg for 9. play with 10. succeed in
Step 3 – Have students work in pairs or small groups to create questions and answer them. One variation is to have groups switch papers and answer one another’s questions.