Prepositions Do you have some advice on how to learn prepositions?
But I’m not talking about the rules which in my opinion are useless considering the number of exceptions that there are, I’m talking about when the situation is not very obvious and you get a bit dubitative as to which one to use. e.g. I'm going to stay IN that position the whole time Those videos didn't make it ON my main channel, Watch The Journey of Anakin and Luke Skywalker's Lightsaber IN This Video. Help us reach 30,000 comments ON this video  I've been 10 years ON the force. Why IN and not ON and vice versa? Is there like a general rule of thumb to distinguish between the two of them IN these situations? or Are these just fixed phrases that I have to learn as they are? and if so Where can I find compelling lists to learn these fixed phrases? Thank you all.
2018年4月2日 06:19
Comments · 6

Hi Johnny,

It's one of the hardest parts to learn, for sure. There's some sage advice here:

, and I would just add that when it comes to prepositions the basics in my opinion are best learned from school books, specifically by doing the exercises within. Luckily most of the time prepositions like "in" (inside) or "on" (on top of sth.) are used exactly the way you'd expect them to be used, so you'll get the hang of it in no time.

For all the exceptions, set phrases and special cases it's just practicing the language and they'll come naturally to you. You can try to memorize structures that you need to use repeatedly/often. For example, if you travel a lot and need to be able to discuss about it, you'd learn sentences like "I'm flying TO...", "I'm staying AT...", "I'm leaving FROM...", "I need to leave AT..." etc.



“On the force” — I’m afraid this is idiomatic. It’s comparable to “on the team.” Guess what — in British English , they say “in the team.” It wouldn’t surprise me if they also said “in the force” — actually, while I can’t recall ever hearing that in American English, it would not be wrong, according to the general rules (in the army, etc.). 

One more thing — in spoken English, most unaccented vowels are reduced to the schwa (the most common sound in the language), so if you just say /ən/, nobody will know the difference. Let me reiterate: the schwa is the most common sound in the English language, so if you don’t have it under control yet, that should be a high priority (assuming you’re interested in reaching a high level of speaking and listening competence. That would be a much more productive use of study time than worrying about prepositions. 

I imagine you already know that the literal meanings in Spanish are
dentro de
encima de
respectively, so I’ll address the idiomatic usage.

Your question about prepositions is really tough. First of all, let me be perfectly frank — you’re going to need to bite the bullet* and learn phrases, the same as native speakers do. The only difference is that native speakers spend five years learning the basics of their language — at which point they have the language skills of a five-year-old.

That being said, there is some logic to it.
On: We say “on the wall” — this is important to remember, so just memorize it. Now, we can generalize. Imagine that you have a bunch of videos that people can choose from — where are they on display? They are on the wall. Imagine someone writes a comment on the video, where does he write it? On the wall next to the video. Or maybe on a piece of paper, that he then posts on the wall.

“In that position.” A position is a place, and we stay *in* (or “at”) a place.
“In this video” — In order to watch a video, you need to actually “open” it — when we open a door or window, we can look in. Likewise, viewing the video is like looking in the window of a house, or the window of our oven.

*Bite the bullet — brace yourself for something “painful.”
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Language Skills
English, Spanish
Learning Language