Simplifying Complex Prepositions

A quick task on Facebook revealed some confusion over complex prepositions, meaning prepositions that are more than one word. Not all students were able to identify “due to” and “other than” as a single unit that functioned as a preposition. Instead, they identified only the more common simple prepositions “to” and “than.”

This is a starting point for a lesson. Students should be able to perceive how a word or phrase is functioning in a sentence. Then they can move forward to build sentences with similar constructions. One of my goals right now is to help a couple of my intermediate private students gain comfort with complex prepositions that will elevate their everyday communication at work.

In our efforts to teach complex prepositions, we might point out to learners that they’ve been using some complex prepositions since English Grammar 101, when they learned prepositions of location like in front of, across from, and next to. This might help them remember that in spite can’t be used without of and thanks requires to when giving credit: Thanks to all your efforts, we reached our goal this month.

If you’d like to give some practice with complex prepositions, please consider my complex-prepositions_handout.




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