TO, ON, ABOUT: Prepositions of behavior in English

TO, ON, ABOUT: Prepositions of behavior in English

I know prepositions can be confusing and difficult for people learning English. Even people who have been learning English for many years and who have huge vocabularies and great grammar, still find it difficult to know when to use each preposition. One of the best ways to learn prepositions is to learn them in context. That means you learn the meaning of the preposition when it’s used in a particular situation. Today, I am going to teach you about the prepositions “to”, “on”, and “about”. We’re going to focus on their usage with adjectives in sentences about behaviour — that means the way someone acts. First we’ll learn what these prepositions mean when talking about behaviour, then I’ll teach you some common collocations that use these prepositions, and finally, we will test your understanding with some example sentences. Improve your grammar, comprehension, and English speaking confidence by watching this video.



Doo-doo-doo-doo. I really need to be less hard on myself about sports. Hi. James from engVid. Today’s lesson is going to be about prepositions and behaviour. I want to show you how we use prepositions to talk about people’s behaviour. Now, behaviour is how someone acts, their actions. You know, are they good to you, nice to you? So what is their behaviour like? Why is this important? Because you know prepositions is being used as one thing. Today I want to show you a lesson how we take the idea from the preposition, we put it with an adjective, and then we can talk about people’s behaviour. Are you ready? Let’s go to the board.

“I need to be less hard on myself.” Well, you know “need”, you know “hard”, but “hard on myself”, what does that mean? Well, Mr. E is using a preposition, which is an adjective to talk about something he is doing or some way he is acting. Okay? “Hard” means strong, so he needs to be less strong on himself. In this case he needs to be nicer to himself. I used another one, “nicer to”. We’re going to work on this now and you’re going to figure out how you can start using prepositions with adjectives to describe behaviour.

Okay, so, prepositions are most often used for direction, time, and the reason. The reason why. Sorry. The reason why we do something. Right? The reason why we do something. All right? “I’m going to the store”, “I’ll meet you at 12 o’clock”, “I did it for this”. Right? “For”. But they can also be used to describe people’s actions, or behaviour, or what they’re doing. Okay? So I’m going to give you three popular prepositions: “to”, “on”, and “about”. I will explain each one, and then give you some collocations which are words that go together, co-location. Right? Collocation, it means they’re always generally found together, that will explain behaviour. Okay? Let’s go to the first one.

“To”. Everybody loves “to”. Right? “To” means movement: “Go to the store.” Right? I’m not going to say two people, because that’s not a preposition, that’s a number, but “to”. But when we add… Use these adjectives before “to”, we can say: “cruel to”. “He’s cruel to you”. “Cruel” means not very nice. Cruel is not nice, so he’s cruel… But, look. See how we have direction? Remember I said “to” means direction? “He’s cruel to you.” So the direction of his not-niceness goes to you. On the next one we have “kind to”. “Kind” means nice. They are nice or generous. Right? So, when someone’s kind to you, they are nice to-you got it, direction again-you. Direction. “Rude”. You know when someone’s rude they act in a way that’s not nice, they show disrespect to you. Right? They say bad words or something. When someone’s “rude to”, here we go again, “to” means direction and that direction is to whoever they say, rude to them, rude to him, rude to me. Okay? Who is the object? And “helpful to”, that’s right. Somebody or something was helpful to you, they gave you some help when you need it. Help, and then full of help, they were full of help to you. So we’ve just discussed “to” and we know it means movement, and in this case direction, and these adjectives help us… Tell us what the behaviour or actions are that they are doing to you. Okay? You like that one? I got another one. It’s a three-for-one sale, I’m going to teach you three. Okay?

“On”. Usually when we say “on” we mean to put on, like on top, like on the surface of something, “on”. As direction means… “To” means direction, “on” means on the surface or put it on. And as you can see, I put my hand on me which means something, I bet you’re going to understand, is going to come on me. Okay? So we want to use these adjectives before “on”. You can see my little picture, “on”. “Tough on”, you know, Colgate is tough on grease or tough on this. “Tough” means hard or strong.