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Vocabulary: Adjectives plus Prepositions

Adjectives + prepositions

Adjectives plus Prepositions

As we said in the post about using Prepositions of Time, these little words often cause confusion. Unfortunately, unlike prepositions of time, there are no hard and fast rules about using adjectives plus prepositions. And some adjectives can be followed by more than one preposition. It’s another example of collocation – words that go together. This is one of the aspects that’s tested in the vocabulary part of the Aptis Core Test. So whenever you learn a new adjective you should also make a note of the prepositions it can take.

So here are some ‘tendencies’, rather than rules. Where possible, we’ve tried to explain when we choose to use these combinations. We’ve included some of the most common adjectives plus prepositions, but this isn’t a definitive list. However, we hope this guide will help you choose the correct preposition to use when you’re doing your Aptis exam. And remember that if you’re using a verb, prepositions are always followed by the –ing form: ‘She’s good at driving’.

By reading these examples and practising with our mini-tests, you’ll find that things will soon start to ‘sound right’.

Adjectives + ‘at’

When we talk about skills and abilities (and the lack of them) we often use ‘at’:

She’s brilliant at playing the guitar.

They’re so good at English.

I’m not very good at singing.

He’s very skilled at drawing.

I’m hopeless at cooking.


Adjectives + ‘to’

Sometimes when we use ‘to’ as a preposition, it’s to show that there is some sort of link or connection between things or people:

I’m married to his sister (not ‘with’).

That shirt is similar to my shirt.

My daughter’s allergic to egg.

He was addicted to alcohol.

We’re accustomed to driving on the right.

It’s also used with ‘different’ in British English (Americans say ‘different than’):

My opinion is very different to yours.

We also use ‘to’ after an adjective to describe how you behave towards someone else:

I was really friendly to my boss, but she still didn’t like me.

The shop assistant was really rude to my mum.

My mum’s always very polite to everyone.

My teacher was very kind to me.

He thinks he’s superior to everyone else.


Adjectives + ‘of’

Sometimes we use ‘of’ with adjectives that describe feelings:

I’m afraid of heights.

He’s proud of his daughter.

She’s jealous of her friend.

I felt ashamed of my behaviour.

She’s envious of our lifestyle.

We also use it to talk about how people have behaved towards each other:

That’s really kind of you.

It’s so typical of him to be late.

It’s really sweet of her to say that.

It was wrong of you not to tell the truth.

It was silly of her to forget his birthday.


Adjectives + ‘with’

At other times we use ‘with’ to express how we feel about someone or something:

She was angry with me because I used her things.

The students were bored with the grammar lesson.

He was delighted with his new car.

I was disappointed with my exam result.

Are you OK with my boyfriend coming along too?


Adjectives + ‘for’

We can use ‘for’ to describe how we feel in relation to someone:

I feel sorry for my dad, as he has to spend a lot of time in hospital.

That’s great news! I’m really pleased for you!

We also us it after these adjectives:

Seville is famous for flamenco dancing.

London is well-known for its ancient monuments.

He was grateful for all the help he received.

Who’s responsible for writing the report?

Are you prepared for the exam?


Adjectives + ‘about’

We often use ‘about’ to refer to what is causing the feeling:

I’m nervous about the exam (the exam is causing me to feel nervous).

I’m excited about my holiday (my holiday is causing me to feel excited).

She’s worried about the interview (the cause of her anxiety is her interview).

They were sorry about the noise (the cause of their regret was the noise).


Adjectives + ‘in’

When we use ‘in’, it’s often to show interest or experience in something:

She’s very interested in web design.

He’s been involved in politics all his life.

Are you experienced in speaking in public?


Adjectives + ‘by’

We’ll include this category, although this is really a passive construction. The adjectives here are also past participles.

I was amazed by the show (the show amazed me).

She was shocked by the news (the news shocked her).

That painter was obviously inspired by Picasso (Picasso obviously inspired that painter).

We recommend that you put these adjectives plus prepositions into sentences that are personal to you, as this will make them easier to remember. So get your notebook and complete these phrases:

I’m good at …

I’m terrible at …

My taste in music is quite similar to …

I’m very different to …

I’m afraid of …

I’m proud of …

I often feel sorry for …

I’m nervous about …

I’m excited about …

I was inspired by …


Now see how much you can remember with this mini-test.


Vocabulary: Adjectives plus Prepositions

See if you can choose the correct preposition to use in these sentences.

1 / 12

She scored 10 goals – she’s brilliant …. football.

2 / 12

Chris is really upset …. what her brother said about her new top.

3 / 12

You could be nicer …. him – he's lonely.

4 / 12

I'm responsible …. training new staff.

5 / 12

Vally is very different …. her brother.

6 / 12

Bob was very pleased …. his results.

7 / 12

I’ve been married ….. my wife for just over 6 months.

8 / 12

My sister’s so rude …. everyone and I’ve no idea why.

9 / 12

I’m sorry …. what I called you, I was so angry I couldn’t stop myself.

10 / 12

I’m really afraid …. big dogs!

11 / 12

What is your city famous ....?

12 / 12

A smoking jacket is very similar …. a tuxedo.

Your score is


Remember, you can find all the free exam materials available on our website in the Guide to the Posts.

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