Using Prepositions and Correlatives

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  • 0:01 Prepositions & Correlatives
  • 2:48 Question 1
  • 4:38 Question 2
  • 5:57 Question 3
  • 7:02 Question 4
  • 8:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

It's frustrating to hear 'because I said so,' but sometimes that's just the way it is. In this lesson, you'll learn two areas of grammar where you can't rely on patterns; you'll just have to memorize.

Prepositions & Correlatives

Some things in English conform to a pattern, so all you have to do is remember the pattern and you're set. For example, if I called something a 'dode' and asked you what you'd call two of them, you'd probably come up with 'dodes,' because the pattern in English is to form the plural of a noun by adding -s to the end.

But other things don't have a pattern at all. There's no real reason why they work the way they do; they just do. In this lesson, we'll cover two of those things: prepositions and correlatives.

A preposition is a word that describes the relationship of one thing to something else. For example, prepositions like 'before' and 'after' describe relationships in time, while prepositions like 'above' and 'below' describe relationships in space.

Certain prepositions in English go with certain words just because that's the rule. For example, you say you're 'afraid of' something, not 'afraid about' something. This is not because it follows any pattern but because we all decided to say 'afraid of,' and now it's a rule.

A correlative is a word always paired with another word. For example, 'neither' always goes with 'nor.' You can't say 'neither… or;' you can't say 'either… nor.' 'Neither' and 'nor' are a pair of correlatives. Other correlatives include 'both… and,' 'either… or' and 'not only… but also.'

Correlatives are also basically about memorization. You just have to remember which words go with each other.

In this lesson, you'll get some practice working with both of these cases. They can be frustrating at first, especially for English language learners, but if you're struggling to catch them, the only solution is to practice, practice, practice, until you've got at least the common ones down.

Question 1

For your first example, take a look at this sentence. Your job is to pick the best replacement for the underlined part of the sentence.

'Our hiking guide made sure that we were aware about the dangers of snakes, bears, dehydration and unpredictable weather.'

(A) (as it is now)
(B) aware because of
(C) aware concerning
(D) aware of

You can see just from the answer choices that this question is really testing whether or not 'about' is the right word to use here. 'About' is a preposition, so this is a preposition question. There's no rule that you can apply here, so the best you can do is read the sentence slowly and decide which one you think sounds right. You could also try to remember other sentences that you've read or heard that used the word 'aware' - what came right after?

In this case, the correct answer is (D), because the correct preposition to go with 'aware' is 'of.' You're 'aware of' something, not 'aware about' it. Why? Well, that's just the way it works. You might also remember phrases like 'aware of your surroundings' to help you out.

Question 2

Let's try another one:

'We never had trouble either from bears stealing our food and not from storms on the lakefront, but we did meet a few dangerous snakes.'

(A) (as it is now)
(B) nor from
(C) or from
(D) nor did we see any

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