Common Prepositions + Nouns

Two Asian students studying together at university
Learn Preposition + Noun Combinations. Prasit photo/Getty Images

Here are a number of fixed expressions of prepositions plus nouns in English. The focus is on expressions with 'by', 'for', 'in', and 'on'. As you continue to learn English, take note of common combinations of words such as nouns plus verbs or other phrases that go together. 


Use 'by' with the following nouns:

  • to pay by check (credit card): I paid the bill by check.
  • to do something by accident: I broke the vase by mistake.
  • to do something by mistake: I'm afraid I brought the wrong book by mistake.
  • to do something by chance: I saw Jack at the supermarket by chance.
  • a play, song, book, etc. by someone: The opera 'Otello' is by Giuseppe Verdi.


Use 'for' with the following nouns:

  • (to go / come) for a walk: Let's go for a walk.
  • (to go / come) for a swim: We went for a swim as soon as we arrived.
  • (to go / come) for a drink: Would you like to come over for a drink?
  • (to go / come) for a visit: I'd love to come for a visit sometime.
  • (to have something) for breakfast / lunch / dinner / supper (US English): I had bacon and eggs for breakfast.
  • for a change: Let's go to lunch to a restaurant for a change. 
  • for example: For example, the chairs have not been replaced in months. 
  • for instance: We should take a week off to relax. For instance, we could go to the beach.


Use 'in' with the following nouns:

  • to be OR to fall in love with someone: I fell in love with my wife at first sight.
  • in my opinion: In my opinion, we need to invest in some development.
  • in case: Call me in case he needs some help tomorrow.  
  • in fact: You'll find that he is, in fact, a very kind person. 
  • in the picture: Is Alan in the picture anymore? 


Use 'on' with the following nouns:

  • (to be) on fire: Help! The house is on fire!
  • (to be) on the telephone / phone: I think Tom is on the phone at the moment.
  • on television: There is a good film on television tonight.
  • on the radio: Mahler's fifth was on the radio last night.
  • (to be / go) on a diet: I really need to go on a diet.
  • (to be / go) on strike: The sanitary engineers have gone on strike again.
  • (to be / go) on holiday (UK English) / vacation (American English): I really need to go on vacation soon.
  • (to be / go) business: He went away this weekend on business.
  • (to be / go) on a trip: We were on a trip this past weekend.
  • (to be / go) a tour: Have you ever been on a tour of the French countryside?
  • to do something on purpose: Did you break that glass on purpose? 
  • (to be / go) on an excursion: We went on an excursion to Versailles when we were in Paris.

Test Your Understanding

Now that you have studied the various preposition noun formulas, take this quiz to test your understanding.

Use 'by', 'for', 'in' or 'on' to fill in the gaps in the sentences.

  1. _____ case you are in town, give Peter a call.
  2. I promise you I didn't do that _____ purpose. 
  3. Let's go _____ a swim in the ocean!
  4. I've just seen Selene _____ chance. She was very friendly. 
  5. _____ my opinion, you shouldn't worry so much about your grades. 
  1. Why don't you come over ______ a visit? I'd love to catch up.
  2. I really need to go _____ a diet. I'm 20 pounds overweight. 
  3. I think I'll have some pasta and a salad _____ dinner tonight. 
  4. Have you ever gone _____ an excursion that surprised you?
  5. May I pay _____ check, or would you prefer a credit card?
  6. What else is _____ this picture?
  7. There are many choices. _____ example, you could move to China. 
  8. I'd like to eat at home _____ a change. 
  9. You'll find that he's a very nice guy. _____ fact, I'd say he's one of the nicest people I know.
  10. I heard this great show_____ the radio the oteher night.


  1. in
  2. on
  3. for
  4. by
  5. in
  6. for
  7. on
  8. for
  9. on
  10. by
  11. in
  12. for
  13. for
  14. in
  15. on

Take the next step and try this follow-up nouns prepositions quiz to learn more common combinations in English. Continue learning with these resources:

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Beare, Kenneth. "Common Prepositions + Nouns." ThoughtCo, May. 8, 2017, Beare, Kenneth. (2017, May 8). Common Prepositions + Nouns. Retrieved from Beare, Kenneth. "Common Prepositions + Nouns." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 22, 2018).