Noun + preposition
  David Beckham, footballer

Gina from Peru writes:

I want to know as many examples of nouns and prepositions as possible: approval of, awareness of, belief in, fondness for, grasp of, hatred of, etc. Also how does this affect the construction of the sentence?

Roger Woodham replies:

Some nouns, particularly abstract nouns, have to be followed by a prepositional phrase in order to demonstrate what they relate to. They cannot just stand by themselves. There is usually only one possibility of preposition which must be used after a particular noun. Occasionally alternatives are possible. But in either event it is a matter of learning which prepositions can be used with which nouns.

Here are some of the most common noun plus preposition combinations, but there is space here only for a few of them. If you are in doubt as to which preposition to use, always check with a good dictionary.

Nouns followed by 'to'

access to addiction to allusion to answer/reply/
response to
contribution to damage to devotion to reference to
relevance to resistance to solution to threat to
  • The court ordered that access to his children would be restricted to alternate Sundays.
  • It was his contribution to molecular biology that won him the Nobel prize.
  • Addiction to alcohol is perhaps as serious as addiction to drugs in this country.
  • The damage caused to his house was colossal after the hurricane.
  • Her devotion to her husband was unqualified.
  • There is no solution to this problem.
  • His answer/response/reply to his neighbour's accusation of damage to the fence that divided them was to seek the advice of a solicitor.
  • Although there are thousands of squirrels in the wood, they are no threat to the environment.

Note that the verbs and adjectives that these nouns are related to are often followed by the same preposition:

  • He contributed to the occasion by accompanying the flautist on the piano.
  • He alluded to all the novels of James Joyce in his talk on contemporary Irish fiction.
  • He is no longer addicted to alcohol and is devoted to his friend who weaned him off it.
  Nouns followed by 'for'

admiration for bid for cure for demand for recipe for
respect for responsibility for room for search for thirst for
  • I have nothing but admiration for the way he handled a very difficult situation.
  • There is no known cure for this type of snake bite.
  • The demand for this new generation of mobile phone cannot be satisfied.
  • I have a wonderful recipe for a simple pasta dish that I must give you.
  • She is a thoroughly spoilt child and has no respect for her parents.
  • The search for the missing teenager was called off as darkness fell.
  • The children in this deprived area show a real thirst for learning.

It is sometimes the case that nouns with a similar meaning are followed by the same preposition. Thus appetite, craving, hankering, hunger, desire, longing, passion are all synonyms of thirst and they are all followed by the preposition for:

  • I had a craving/longing/appetite/hunger/hankering for oysters when I was pregnant.

    Nouns followed by 'with'

    connection with date with dealings with meeting with
    involvement with link with quarrel with sympathy with
    • I've got a dinner date with Tommy on Saturday. ~ That's nice. How romantic!
    • I've got a meeting with the architects this afternoon, so I shall be home late.
    • His dealings with Grenville Engineering were suspended and all links / connections with the organisation were severed.
    • I have no quarrel with his teachers. I think they did all they could to deter him.
      I have every sympathy with his family. They must be so upset that he is now in prison.

    Note that all of these nouns imply some sort of relationship with people or things and they all have the linking preposition with.

    Other nouns - other prepositions

    ban on grudge against anger at bond between excerpt from
    awareness of grasp of control over authority over hold on
    • There is going to be a complete ban on fishing in the North Atlantic. The fishing stocks are so depleted.
    • They bore a grudge against their neighbours and hadn't spoken to them for two years.
    • His anger at the way the refugees were being treated was clear to see.
    • The bond between mother and child is one that can never be broken.
    • There was an excerpt from Verdi's Aida on the Radio Three last night.
    • His grasp / understanding / awareness of mathematics left a lot to be desired.
    • She no control over her emotions.
    • She has some sort of authority over him and he has a hold on her. They are well-matched.

    Note that although related adjectives and verbs are often followed by the same preposition (awareness of / aware of - reference to / refer to), this is not always the case:

    • I have no intention of resigning.
    • I do not intend to resign.

    Certain nouns - choice of preposition

    agreement about / on debate about / on decision about / on
    difficulty with / in love of / for
    need of / for
    transition from / to
    reason for / to arguments for / against case for / against
    • There was no agreement about / on the shorter working week and the decision on / about employee benefits was deferred until the next meeting.
    • I'm having difficulty with the steering. It just won't go where I want it to go.
    • I'm having difficulty in steering this trolley. It just won't go where I want it to go.
    • His love of / for tennis is such that he queued all night for a ticket for the tournament.
    • The transition from a controlled to a market economy was not easily achieved.
    • No reason was given for the changes to the schedule.
      You have no reason to change the schedule like that.
    • Although the case against him was strong, his lawyer put up a good case for leniency.

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