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The following notes come from a student practice session on writing improvement. Includes samples of student writing and teacher comments (in italics).

Idiomatic Verb and Preposition Combinations

English Made Easy: A Canadian Rhetoric and Handbook by Judy Jewinski

The book has a handbook section. One of the topics is prepositions. In this section are lists of common preposition and verb combinations.

IDIOM is a combination of two or more words that take a special meaning when together.

How do I learn to use prepositions in English? What is the trick?
The teacher answers: “Memorize them!” Memorize the situation where a certain combination of verb and preposition is used commonly.

I put off the meeting. I cancelled the meeting.

When marking paragraphs and essays, teachers note the use of correct idiom. If correctly used, it raises the evaluation of student writing. Writing without idiom sounds "off." It has a strange sound to the English ear.

Teacher Examples


Bring on the champagne! Let the party begin.

The way he is speaking may bring on trouble for him.

He should bring out the garbage from his house.

The hair colour brings out the beautiful colour of her eyes.

He brought up two children. (raised)

He brought up a problem with his boss.

Rufus brought up the problem of meeting new people in Canada.

Call for help when you have trouble.

The young man called for a date with the young girl.

Call off the meeting because the snow is too deep. (cancel)

I call on my sister on my way home from work.

The teacher calls on Darren to give him the answer.

He calls him up and asks him if he would like to see a movie.

A call up is when soldiers are asked to come and serve in the army. He was called up.


Student Writing

I don’t know idioms perfectly, which may bring on misunderstandings when I speak with native speaking people.

He said his classmates had called him up and invited him to play basketball.

Yesterday, the weather was very bad so my boss put off the tree planting job.

We have two daughters to bring up, so both my husband and I are working.

I call on my friend on the way to school. Rufus likes to drop in on his friend.

Bring on the salad for the party!

In the morning, the sun brings out the shiny colour.

Teacher Sample


 The sure way to bring on trouble with my sister is by not calling her up on the phone. It brings out her worst behaviour when I forget. I should also remember to tell her that her new blue dress brings out the colour of her eyes! But that does not mean I should call on her without an appointment. She might say, “That was uncalled for! Why didn’t you call me up first to let me clean my house for you?” In that case, it might be better to call off any meetings with her and hide out for a while.




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Idiomatic Verb and Preposition Combinations

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