Advanced English Tutorial : 24 Prepositions That Confuse Even Native Speakers

May 5, 2017
5 May 2017,

There are approximately 150 prepositions in the English language. Some are used very frequently (with, at, from, about), while others are used less frequently. However, with only around 150 prepositions, it’s important to understand how to use them all! For greater English mastery, review this list of 24 uncommon prepositions and what they mean!

Advanced English Tutorial : 24 Prepositions That Confuse Even Native Speakers




Meaning: about, approximately. Often used with dates.

Example one: “We adopted our dog as a stray. We think she was born circa 2005.”

Example two: “The artifact is believed to come from the Smith home circa 1924.”




Meaning: next to.

Example one: “Tim and Steven worked alongside each other the entire night, giving each other encouragement.”

Example two: “The horses pranced alongside each other after their grueling routine.”




Meaning: except.

Example one: “They paid me my full wage, excluding taxes, after one week of working at the company.”

Example two: “All my friends, excluding one, were able to come to my wedding last August.”




Meaning: regardless of; despite.

Example one: “She decided to go to the prom, notwithstanding her lack of a date.”

Example two: “He was able to finish building the treehouse, notwithstanding his broken leg.”


Owing to


Meaning: because of.

Example one: “His limp was improved owing to his strong medicine.”

Example two: “She was confident she would win the race owing to her dedicated practices.


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Meaning: about; concerning.

Example one: “He called touching your teacher’s note she gave you.”

Example two: “The note, touching his true feelings for her, was hidden away.”




Meaning: except.

Example one: The entire team, bar one player, was able to attend the weekend’s tournament.

Example two: “I decided to keep all my clothes, bar the few worn down jeans.”


In lieu of


Meaning: instead of.

Example one: “May I give you roses in lieu of a poem?”

Example two: “In lieu of money, he paid me in popcorn and friendship.”




Meaning: against.

Example one: “Despite her love of Mexican food, she was anti guacamole.”

Example two: “Tom was very anti violent movies.”


By means of


Meaning: by way of

Example one: “He accessed the building by means of the back gate.”

Example two: “I was able to visit my family in Florida by means of public transportation.”




Meaning: Subtraction of. Minus zero degrees (temperature).

Example one: “Considering the temperature is minus 5 degrees, I suggest you put on a warmer coat.”

Example two: “forty minus twenty equals twenty.” (40-20=20, ‘minus’ is the word for the ‘-’.)




Meaning: for each.

Example one: “The chocolate was $1 per bar.”

Example two: “We were allowed one invitation per family.”




Meaning: a leg on every side, legs apart.

Example one: “She was sitting astride the teeter-totter when her brother came over and pushed her down.”

Example two: “The doctor had him sit down on the examination table, legs astride.”


Preparatory to


Meaning: before.

Example one: “She studied for an entire month preparatory to her exams.”

Example two: “The actress had to gain ten pounds preparatory to filming her leading role.”


On account of


Meaning: because of.

Example one: “She decided to attend the funeral on account of her grieving husband.”

Example two: “Kevin’s boss only gave him a warning on account of his aunt’s unexpected death earlier that month.”




Meaning: until something happens.

Example one: “We were waiting to go back inside the house pending the firefighters instruction.”

Example two: “Megan wasn’t willing to go back home pending her husband apologized.”




Meaning: in regard to.

Example one: “I filled out the forms respecting the birth of your son.”

Example two: “Lilly was expecting a call respecting her travel plans.”


Prior to


Meaning: before; until.

Example one: “People were surprised I had never been to a library prior to college.”

Example two: “Prior to dinner, he hadn’t eaten anything all day!”


Together with


Meaning: along with.

Example one: “I like the beach together with the mountains.”

Example two: “I’m going to the movies together with my husband and son.”




Meaning: covered by; below.

Example one: “The bike was underneath all the autumn leaves.”

Example two: “The diver was submerged underneath the icy cold ocean waves.”




Meaning: by way of.

Example one: “I sent your invitation via the postal system.”

Example two: “I arrived at my destination via rental car.”




Meaning: opposed to; against.

Example one: “This weekend’s regatta is Frank’s team versus Henry’s Team.”

Example two: “I’d rather have dinner with my mom versus my dad.”




Meaning: as a result of.

Example one: “I can’t look at her the same way following our argument we had last night.”

Example two: “I adopted a new cat following our house fire.”




Meaning: about; in connection with.

Example one: “I need to speak with you concerning last night’s incident.”

Example two: “Her professor needed to see her concerning her test scores.”

While all these prepositions you see on this advanced English tutorial are still in use today, you may not hear the words and phrases on this list as frequently. However, in order to master the English language, it’s important you have a solid understanding of as many prepositions as possible! This list of 24 uncommonly used English prepositions can help jumpstart your preposition mastery.


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