Certain Words Require Certain Prepositions

Certain words must be followed by certain prepositions in order to achieve clarity. Learning these combinations will help you conform to professional standards in business writing. The following list of common combinations clarifies which preposition to use when.

account for (to explain or justify something missing) account to (to explain or justify something to someone)

• He needs to account for his absence at the client meeting.

• He will have to account to Mr. Peterson for missing the client meeting.

agree on or upon (arrive at an understanding) agree to (go along with)

agree with (believe the same thing as someone else)

• Michael and Joe have agreed on changing the schedule.

• Michael and Joe agreed to Mr. Peterson's ideas for changing the schedule.

• Michael and Joe agreed with Mr. Peterson's ideas for changing the schedule.

angry at or about (irritated at or about something) angry with (irritated with someone)

• Mario was angry at the finding of the courts.

• Mario was angry with Jules for an inadequate defense.

apply for (a job or other opportunity) apply to (a person or an organization)

• Mario decided to apply for the position of chef.

• After serving three months of the six-month sentence, Mario decided to apply for the early release program.

• Mario applied to Ms. Myerson for help in winning the parole board's approval.

• Mario applied to the new hotel for a job as chef.

compare to (make a general comparison)

compare with (evaluate specific similarities and differences)

• Harriet compared my performance to Frank's.

• When Harriet compared my performance with Frank's, she said I was better at ad libbing but not as smooth in my delivery.

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