Prepositions can sometimes be confusing, especially for English language learners. Should you say "I'm in a meeting" or "I'm at a meeting"? Is it better to say "We agreed upon meeting at 12." or "We agreed to meet at 12."? This can sometimes be frustrating especially in business writing, so in this post I'm going to show you some examples of how to use prepositions correctly in business communication.
First of all, what are prepositions?A preposition is a word that shows relationships between words in a sentence. The relationship may include direction, place, time, cause, manner and amount. Here are some examples of prepositions: in, or, at, to, from, for, between, above, among, around, with, near, along, before, over, under, etc.
How to use prepositions correctly?Try not to translate full sentences from your native language into English, because one preposition can mean different things in English.
Let's take a look at "speak to someone" and "speak with someone".
In common usage there is no difference, but for more formal speech most people use "Speak to" one person and "Speak with" more than one person. However, translating to and with from Russian for example, may be confusing.
Unfortunately there are no specific rules on how to use prepositions. The best way to use them correctly is by reading and writing. Learning prepositions in sentences is the best way to avoid making mistakes, so the more you write and read business letters, articles or books, the more comfortable you will feel with using prepositions.
I have created a list of verb-preposition combinations that can be commonly confused in business communication.
Most common verb-preposition combinations in business English:Agree on or upon (have the same opinion about something being discussed)
We agreed upon/on signing the contract with our new partners.
Agree to (a request was made and that the person towards whom the request was directed responded positively to that request)
After long negotiations with ABC company, we agreed to sell our shares to them next year.
Agree with (believe the same thing as someone else)
"He agreed with you on whether we should increase the salary."
Angry at or about (irritated at a situation)
"The boss is angry about the new rules and regulations of the government"
Angry with (irritated with a person)
"The boss is angry with you for coming late"
Apologize for (say sorry for something)
"I would like to apologize for coming late to the meeting"
Apologize to (say sorry to someone)
"I would like to apologize to the board of directors for coming late to the meeting"
Apply for (a job or other opportunity, to state the purpose of your application)
"I would like to apply for the sales manager position at your company"
Apply to (a person or organization, to state where you are applying)
"I'm applying to a non-government organization"
Compare to (make a general comparison, highlight the similarities)
"Our boss always compares himself to Steve Jobs"
Compare with (make a comparison, focus on the differences)
"You will be surprised if you compare our sales growth from last year with our current growth"
Convenient for (suitable)
"Please let me know what time is it convenient for us to meet next week."
Convenient to (nearby, when something is close)
"Please select a branch convenient to you" (a branch that is close to you)
Differ from (different from something or somewhat)
"Our company's vision differs from ABC company's vision"
Differ with (disagree with a person)
"I differed with our board of directors about launching our new product next month."
Work for (a company or a person)
"I worked for Samsung for 10 years"
Work with (in a partnership)
"We worked with Samsung on numerous projects for 10 years"
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