Prepositional verbs, or verbs that are paired with prepositions, can be challenging for any writer, especially because there are few consistent rules about preposition use in English. Below, we outline 10 prepositional verbs that are commonly misused in academic writing. Correct usage may improve the flow and clarity of your writing, helping to better convey your intended meaning.
Certain verbs should be coupled with a specific preposition:
- Comply with: All participants complied with the study regimen.
- Correlate with: The dose correlated with the extent of the allergic reaction.
- Depend on: The extent of the allergic reaction depended on the dose administered.
In other cases, the preposition choice may depend on the context:
- Consist of = composed of (tangible): The regimen consisted of an anti-histamine and a specific diet.
- Consist in = lie in (abstract): The significance of the study consists in its uniqueness in the literature.
- Correspond with = agree with: The results of this experiment correspond with the results of a similar study.
- Correspond to = agree with OR similar in character: The treatment group in this experiment corresponds to the treatment group in a similar study.
- Vary/differ from = diverge from: The treatment group differed/varied from the control group.
- Vary/differ in = divergent in a specific way: The treatment and control groups differed/varied in the extent of their allergic reactions.
- Vary/differ with = change periodically: The extent of the allergic reaction differed/varied with the dose administered.
We hope that this editing tip will be a helpful reference as you write. Please email us if you have any comments or questions on this topic. Best of luck in your writing endeavors!