PHRASES/PREPOSITIONS
Ask someone: Ask someone out: Similar though they seem, meanings of both the phrases are different to an extent the former being inquiring about someone’s well-being whereas the latter is to invite someone to go out for a meal, entertainment etc.
Be in for something: Be In on something: ‘She will be In for trouble If she does not pay attention to her health problems wherein the former phrase Implies ‘to be due for’ and point to the probable result of any action/inaction. Be in on something moans to be fully participating or be fully involved. He Is In on his Ph.D thesis those days.
Blow over: Blow up: The phrase blow over often appears In context quite contrary to its morning. To blow over means to cease to arouse interest and be forgotten while to blow up means to become suddenly angry. The rains had just blown over. The teacher blows up to so that her favourite student failed to secure a good percentage In the examination.
Break down: Break something down: With the absence of the object of the verb, break down means to stop functioning suddenly whereas breaking something down means to overcome or to beat. It was a historical revolution. It broke down all previous records of similar revolutions. Finally, the Black Africans had succeeded in breaking down the barrier of discrimination.
Carry someone away: Carry off something: Although sounding quite conciliar, the meaning of carrying someone away is to have him overwhelmed with emotion or enthusiasm, whereas to carry off something is to win or obtain, thus each varying abundantly in meaning. Rahul’s mother carried Rahul away when she met him after five years. Rishikesh. carried off the match with his century.
Count on someone: Count someone out: Count on someone implies ‘to rely on someone’ unlike count someone out which implies to exclude or not to consider as in ‘You might better count me out of the wedding reception’, though you may count on me for the gift.
Cut back (on) something: Cut down (on) something: The meaning of both the phrases is the same i.e. to reduce except that cut back (on) something applies precisely for production while cutting down (on) something for consumption. Manufacturers had to cut back on production due to the fall in demand. We need to cut down on our expenses to save for the future.
Deal in something Deal with something: ‘To trade’ is the meaning of each of the phrases. However. ‘The new shop will deal in electrical appliances’ means will do business in. To deal with is to be involved with or is to treat in a particular way. I have been dealing with the similar problems of our students in coping with higher level English for the last several years. The problems cannot be solved by dealing with them harshly as indeed some teachers do. Drive something: in Drive at something: To drive something in means to.explain repeatedly as in ‘They drove it into me that Arithmetic was vitally important.’ To drive at something means to aim at or try to say or convey as in ‘Ekanath does not explain well, but I realised what he was driving at.
Finish with someone: Finish something off: To end a friendship or connection is what. finish with someone implies unlike finish something off which implies to complete or use up. Sunil finished with Ashwin after their heated arguments with each other.The children finished off the whole pudding.
Fix on something: Fix something on: The interchanging of the preposition imparts quite a variation in the meaning of the two phrases. To fix on something is to decide on or choose as in Sunita has fixed on Vimal for a husband.’ To fix something on is to fasten or attach as in ‘Please fix the top on the milk container.
Get over something: Get something over It is wrong to say Prof. Verna often tails to got over his ideas to his students’. What was intended was Prof Vermn often fails Si his ideas over to his students’ meaning he fails to manage to communicate his ideas. I am yet to get over the sorrow of the recent loss of my dear Aunt.
Get round something: Get something round: To get around something is to circumvent or evade as indicated in ‘It is no use trying to get around paying the airport tax while going abroad’; while to get something round is to send, as in will get the fax round to you by evening.
Get something down: Get down to something: Often used wrongly. Get something down means to manage to write (in a hurry, with difficulty, etc Get down to something means to start serious work on or to tackle. Though she has got something down for the magazine. I have not yet got down to critically examine it.
Give something up: Give up something: To give something up is to surrender. He refused to give up the race, even though he was not well To give up something is to stop indulging in something. My uncle has given up drinking after the heart attack.
Go in for something: Go into something: To go in means to participate. To go into means to critically examine. She’s gone in for the inter school athletics competition He has no time to go into the case.
Have something out: This phrase can pertain to two meanings. The first one is caused to be extracted or removed as in ‘Sachin has gone to the distraction have his tooth out. While the second being to argue or discuss conclusively as in It’s time you had the whole matter out with your spouse.’
Make up for something: Make something up: ‘He is working on Sunday to make up for yesterday’s leave’; the meaning of the phrase thus being to compensate. ‘I have only made up the story for my absence’ which means I have fabricated or invented a lie.

On the face of it: In the face of On the face of anything – means prima facie – as it appears from underlying and obvious facts. In the face of- means in the presence of or in spite of some odds or some challenge. On the face of it, the book appears to be written by her. She could complete this arduous task In the face of a number of difficulties.
One’s last word: The last word: One’s last word means his final statement, offer or warning. The last word means a statement which has the force of authority, a statement which is up-to-date and the best available. ‘Hey Ram’ was Mahatma Gandiii|is last words He has to take the last word from his boss before taking any action on the issue.
Settle for something: Settle on something: To settle for means to be prepared to accept or to live with. He has settled for a change of his job To settle on means to choose or decide. She has settled on Pune for a stay after retirement.
Take someone In; Take in someone: To take someone in means to trick or fool a person. He was taken in by Milind’s swaggering manner and claims To take in someone means to accommodate; to give shelter. India took in refugees from Bangladesh.
To bring a house down: To bring down a house: With Zubin Mehta’s performance, he brought the house down, means he received great applause from the audience With his humorous tales, he brought down the house, means he caused hilarious laughter in the audience.
To have one’s own way: To have a way with one: To have one’s own way means to do what one wants while to have a way with one means to have something charming or pleasant, – generally a conduct or a style, which is attractive to other people. The divorcing couple decided to have their own way The Princess of Wales had a way with her.
To tell the tale; To tell tales: Unintentionally misplaced. To tell tales is to reveal secrets or private affairs in a malicious way, while to tell a tale is to tell a sad story about oneself to get sympathy from others. Propagandists are known for telling tales, The poor window told a tale to gain sympathy.
Worst comes to worst and Worse comes to worst: Worst comes to worst is the correct expression, not ‘worse comes to worst’ although the latter appears more logical.

Back to Home Pag