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A study on prepositions of direction and some common mistakes made by first year students of english at hanoi open university

HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY
FACULTY OF ENGLISH
...…o0o……

GRADUATION THESIS
B.A DEGREE IN ENGLISH STUDIES
A STUDY ON PREPOSITIONS OF DIRECTION AND SOME
COMMON MISTAKES MADE BY FIRST-YEAR STUDENTS
OF ENGLISH AT HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY

Supervisor: Dr Ho Ngoc Trung
Student: Le Vo Thanh Thai
Date of birth: 08/08/1993
Class: 1271A04 (2012-2016)

Hanoi - 2016


DECLARATION

Title: A Study on preposition of direction and some common mistakes

made by first-year students of English at Hanoi Open University

I certify that no part of the above report has been copied or reproduced by me
from any other’s work without acknowledgement and that the report is
originally written by me under strict guidance of my supervisor.

Hanoi, 15th April, 2016

Student

Supervisor


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

This graduation thesis is the result of my continuous working time, I
have received a lot of help, assistance, ideas from my supervisor, friends and
family.
First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to Dr Ho Ngoc Trung
for his enormously helpful and effective instructions, constant and tireless
support throughout the study.
My sincere thanks also send to all of my teachers at Faculty of English
- Hanoi Open University who give me the opportunity and the best conditions
to complete the study.
I am also grateful to all the authors and researchers for their beneficial
magnificent materials and studies used in this graduation thesis
Last but not least, I wish to give my heartfelt to my beloved family and
friends for their spiritual and material support.


ABBREVIATIONS

1. Adj :

Adjective

2. E.g. :

Example


3. i.e :

In explanation

4. Pre :

Preposition

5. PP :

Prepositional Phrase


LIST OF TABLES

Table 1.1: Simple prepositions

Page 8

Table 1.2: Complex prepositions

Page 12

Table 1.3: Semantic Types of Prepositions

Page 21

Table 3.1: Result of the Survey

Page 38


TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
ABBREVIATIONS
LIST OF TABLES
PART I: INTRODUCTION........................................................................... 1
1. Rationale of the study ................................................................................. 1
2. Aims of the study......................................................................................... 2
3. Scope of the study........................................................................................ 2
4. Research questions ...................................................................................... 2
5. Methods of the study................................................................................... 2
6. Design of the study ...................................................................................... 3
PART II: DEVELOPMENT .......................................................................... 4
CHAPTER 1 THEORETICAL BACKGROUND....................................... 4
1. Overview on English prepositions ............................................................. 4
1.1. Definition of preposition ....................................................................... 4
1.2. Position of English prepositions ........................................................... 6
1.3. Classification of Prepositions................................................................ 7
1.3.1. According to compositional types................................................... 7
1.3.1.1. Simple Prepositions ................................................................. 7
1.3.1.2. Complex Prepositions............................................................ 10
1.3.2. According to semantic relation:.................................................... 12
1.3.2.1. Prepositions of Place: ............................................................ 12
1.3.2.2. Prepositions of Time .............................................................. 13


1.3.2.3. Prepositions of Direction....................................................... 14
1.3.2.4. Prepositions of Manner, means, instrument ....................... 14
1.3.2.5. Prepositions of Accompaniment........................................... 15
1.3.2.6. Prepositions of Support and Opposition ............................. 16
1.3.2.7. Prepositions of Cause or Reason .......................................... 16
1.3.2.8. Prepositions of Purpose or Intended Destination ............... 17
1.3.2.9. Prepositions of Concession.................................................... 17
1.3.2.10. Prepositions of source and origin ....................................... 18
1.3.2.11. Preposition of recipient, goal, target.................................. 18
1.3.2.12. Prepositions of Price (for, at).............................................. 19
1.3.2.13. Prepositions of subject matter ............................................ 20
1.4. Semantic properties of prepositions .................................................. 21
1.5. Preposition in parallel form................................................................ 22
1.6. Functions of Prepositions.................................................................... 22
1.6.1. Prepositions functioning as adjectives ......................................... 23
1.6.2. Prepositions functioning as adverbs............................................. 23
1.6.3. Prepositions functioning as nominal ............................................ 23
2. Prepositional Phrase ................................................................................. 24
2.1. Definition of prepositional phrase...................................................... 24
2.2. Rules for Prepositional Phrase ........................................................... 25
2.3. Complementation and modification in Prepositional phrase
structure....................................................................................................... 26
CHAPTER 2 PREPOSITION OF DIRECTION....................................... 29
1. Prepositions of direction ........................................................................... 29


1.1. What is preposition of direction?.........................................................29
1.2 Characteristics of prepositions of direction ....................................... 30
2. Typical Prepositions of Direction ............................................................ 30
2.1 Preposition To ....................................................................................... 30
2.1.1 Introduction of preposition To....................................................... 30
2.1.2 Uses of To ......................................................................................... 31
2.2 Preposition Onto/Into ........................................................................... 33
2.2.1 Introduction of prepositions Onto/Into ......................................... 33
2.2.2 Uses of Onto ..................................................................................... 35
2.2.3 Uses of Into....................................................................................... 35
2.2.4 Into, in to, onto and on to ................................................................ 37
CHAPTER 3: SOME COMMON MISTAKES OF USING
PREPOSITIONS OF DIRECRION MADE BY FIRST-YEAR STUDENTS
OF ENGLISH AT HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY.............................................38
1. Some common mistakes made by first-year students of English at
Hanoi Open University ................................................................................. 38
1.1. Using To and Toward for Places........................................................ 39
1.2. Using In and Into, On and Onto ........................................................ 40
1.3. Some other common mistakes ............................................................ 42
2. Findings and implication .......................................................................... 44
PART III - CONCLUSION.......................................................................... 47
REFERENCE
APPENDIX


Graduation Paper

PART I: INTRODUCTION
1. Rationale of the study
My passion for English has been along with me since I was a secondary
student. At first, studying English seemed to be not very interesting to me due
to the fact that English grammar and pronunciation are too difficult. At that
time, I started to listen to English songs but I couldn’t sing along the whole
lyrics. However, studying English helped me understand the meaning of the
songs and those lyrics that I was singing. After that, I was passionate about
English. After graduating from high school, I passed the entrance examination
of Faculty of English – Hanoi Open University. During four years studying
English at university, I have studied many subjects which make me realize
that English is much more complicated than I ever thought before. However,
English grammar is the part that I always focus on and spend most of my time
on.
Preposition is one of the most essential parts in English grammar.
Because prepositions can be seen in every phrase and every sentence in
English. Additionally, there are many kinds of preposition which is a problem
for students of English to master them. Among them, prepositions of direction
is seemed to be a very important kind. There are a lot of reference books and
materials related to preposition but not many of them is about prepositions of
direction. Moreover, many students of English often make mistakes when
using them too. Therefore, I decided to conduct a study related to them named
“A study on English prepositions of direction and common mistakes made by
first-year students of English at Hanoi Open University” in order to give an
overview of preposition and prepositions of direction, point out some
common mistakes and suggest solutions.

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2. Aims of the study
• Giving an overview of English prepositions and their subclasses. In
particular, prepositions of direction
• Pointing out the usages of typical prepositions of direction
• Investigating common mistakes made by first-year students at Faculty
of English, Hanoi Open University in using English prepositions of
direction and suggesting solutions.
3. Scope of the study
There are many kinds of prepositions so that mastering it is not easy. I
am fully aware that my graduation thesis cannot cover all aspects of
prepositions in English . Therefore, I focus on preposition of direction with
some typical aspects relating to them such as overview on English
prepositions especially prepositions of direction as well as common mistakes
made by first-year students of English at Hanoi Open University.
4. Research questions
• What is preposition?
• What are the characteristics and usages of English prepositions of
direction?
• What are some common mistakes made by first-year students of English
at Hanoi Open University?
5. Methods of the study
In order to gain the mentioned aims of the study, I try my best to collect
related materials in reference books, dictionaries as well as the ones on the
internet. What is more, I conducted surveys at Hanoi Open University in order
to have the exact information for my studying. This study is based on
analyzing, contrasting, researching on linguistics and my knowledge,
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experiences

during

four-year

studying

at

Hanoi

Open

University.

Furthermore, discussions with my classmates and consultation with the
supervisor are really helpful for my paper.
6. Design of the study
My graduation thesis is divided into three parts:
Part I is the introduction, including rationale, aims, scope, methods,
research questions as well as design of the study.
Part II is the development, including three chapters: Chapter I is the
theoretical background which consists of preliminary theory of preposition,
classification of preposition, other features of them, and prepositional phrase.
Chapter II is about prepositions of direction, which consist of overview of
prepositions of direction, analysis some examples, some typical cases.
Chapter III is about some common mistakes made by first-year students of
English at Hanoi Open University, findings and implications.
Part III is the conclusion which summaries what have been discussed
in the previous parts and put an end to the study.

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PART II: DEVELOPMENT
CHAPTER 1 THEORETICAL BACKGROUND
1. Overview on English prepositions
1.1. Definition of preposition
A preposition is traditionally defined in the following ways:
“A preposition is a word that indicates a relation between the noun or
pronoun it governs and another word which may be a verb, an adjective or
another noun or pronoun”
( Curme, 1935: 87)
E.g. She voted against us.
She was dependent on us.
Her opinion of us improved.
In three examples above, the words against, on, of are treated as
prepositions. The preposition against is said to relate us to the verb voted, the
preposition on shows the relation between adjective dependent and the
pronoun us, and preposition of indicates the relation between the noun opinion
and the pronoun us.
The concept of “indicating a relationship” however, is very vague and
such a definition is clearly in need of considerable refinement (whether
construed at the general or language-particular level) to distinguish
prepositions from, for example, verbs and “coordinating conjunctions”, which
can also relate one noun phrase to another.

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In spite of significance of prepositions, standard grammars often assign
them a rather vague definition, such as “a word that shows the relation of a
noun and pronoun to some other word in a sentence”. (Warriner and Griffith,
1965:16). The key word in this definition is “relation”. “Relations” signaled
prepositions as just noted, are both grammatical (e.g, modifier of noun or
verb) and semantic (e.g, recipient, benefactive). This double role of
prepositions will often provide important clues to the structure sentences.
According to Merriam Webster - The most trustworthy dictionary and
thesaurus of American English (http://www.merriam-webster.com/), the
simple definition of preposition is that: Preposition is a word or group of
words that is used with a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase to show direction,
location, or time, or to introduce an object; Full definition of preposition: a
function word that typically combines with a noun phrase to form a phrase
which usually expresses a modification or predication.
A preposition describes a relationship between other words in a
sentence. In itself, a word like in or after is rather meaningless and hard to
define in mere words. For instance, when you do try to define a preposition
like in or between or on you invariably use your hands to show how
something is situated in relationship to something else. Prepositions are nearly
always combined with other words in structures called prepositional phrases.
Prepositional phrases can be made up of a million different words, but they
tend to be built the same: a preposition followed by a determiner and an
adjective or two, followed by a pronoun or noun (called the object of the
preposition). This whole phrase, in turn, takes on a modifying role, acting as
an adjective or an adverb, locating something in time and space, modifying a
noun, or telling when or where or under what conditions something happened.

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1.2. Position of English prepositions
A preposition is followed by a "noun". It is never followed by a verb.
By "noun" we include:
Noun (house, dog, cat, tree,...)
Proper noun (name) (John, White House, USA,…)
Pronoun (you, her, them,…)
Noun group (the best way, her first examination,…)
Gerund (speaking, playing, teaching,…)
• A preposition cannot be followed by a verb. If we want to follow a
preposition by a verb, we must use the "-ing" form which is really a
gerund or verb in noun form.
E.g. She saved money by giving up cigarettes.
• However, prepositions may also come after nouns
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E.g. in questions like ‘What are they looking for?
• Different prepositions can have very similar uses
E.g. in the morning, on Monday morning
• Many nouns, verbs and adjectives are normally used with particular
prepositions
E.g. the reason for, arrive at, angry with, on a bus
• In English prepositions can come at the end of clauses, especially in an
informal style
E.g: What are you talking about?
You are just the person I was looking for.
She’s not very to talk to.
I hate being shouted at.
1.3. Classification of Prepositions
1.3.1. According to compositional types
According to compositional types, there are 2 main kinds of
preposition, they are: simple and complex preposition
1.3.1.1. Simple Prepositions
Most of the common English prepositions, such as: at, in and for, are
simple,… consisting of one word. There are over 100 prepositions in English.
However, the most common single prepositions are:

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Table 1.1: Single Prepositions
About

Beside

Near

To

Above

Between

Of

Towards

Across

Beyond

Off

Under

After

By

On

Underneath

Against

Despite

Onto

Unlike

Along

Down

Opposite

Until

Among

During

Out

Up

Around

Except

Outside

Upon

As

For

Over

Via

At

From

Past

With

Before

In

Round

Within

Behind

Inside

Since

Without

Below

Into

Than

Notwithstanding

Beneath

Like

Through

Apropos(of)

Concerning

E.g. He fell into the lake.
She sat between her dogs.
He stood beside her.
There is nothing inside the jar.
The teacher stood behind the desk.
The boy ran across the road.
Note: In addition to this table, there are a few words which behave in
many ways like prepositions although they have affinities with verbs or
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adjectives: Except, excepting, bar, barring, concerning, considering,
following, including, granted, pending, less, like, near, save, unlike, worth.
E.g. He gave us all bar (= except) three of sketches.
(Quirk. R, 1972: 301)
E.g. Concerning all these disadvantages, his performance was quite
good.
( Huddleston, R,1984:346)
The words at, in, of, on and to are typical examples of prepositions. A
word such as a noun, pronoun or gerund following a preposition is said to be
the object of the preposition. As pointed out previously, a personal pronoun
following a preposition must be in the objective case. A phrase beginning
with a preposition can be referred to as a prepositional phrase. The
prepositional phrases in the following examples are underlined.
E.g. He owns the house on the corner.
We are waiting for her.
She has read many books about flying.
In the first example, the noun corner is the object of the preposition on.
In the second example, the personal pronoun her is the object of the
preposition for. It can be seen that the personal pronoun her is in the objective
case. In the third example, the gerund flying is the object of the preposition
about. A preposition serves to connect its object with the rest of a sentence. In
doing so, a preposition indicates the relationship of the idea expressed in the
prepositional phrase to the ideas expressed in the rest of the sentence.
For instance in the sentence “He owns the house on the corner”, the
preposition on indicates that the words the corner express the location of the
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house referred to in the rest of the sentence. Similarly, in the sentence “We
are waiting for her”, the preposition for indicates that the word her expresses
the reason for the action of waiting referred to in the rest of the sentence.
Although there are fewer than one hundred English prepositions,
although prepositions do not take endings, and although the structure of most
prepositional phrases is simple, the use of English prepositions is very
complex. The reasons for this are that most prepositions have more than one
meaning, many prepositions can also be used as adverbs, prepositions are
used in hundreds of idioms, many adjectives, nouns, and verbs must usually
be followed by certain prepositions, and there are hundreds of phrasal verbs
formed from combinations of verbs with adverbs and prepositions.
1.3.1.2. Complex Prepositions
Most complex prepositions are placeable , according to their form, into
one of three categories:
• Adverb + prep or Double Preposition: along with, apart from, aside
from, as for, as to, away from, from behind, into, off of, on to, (or onto),
out of, together with, up to, etc.
E.g. Suddenly he emerged from behind the curtain.
He walked out of the compound.
• Verb/Adjective/conjunction/etc. + Prep: except for, owing to, due to,
but for, because of, etc.
• Prep 1 + noun + Prep 2: by mean of, in comparison with, on account
of, with regard to, in consequence of, etc.
This category may be further subdivided according to which prepositions
function as Prep1 and Prep 2
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• In + Noun of: in case of, in charge of, in view of, in need of, in spite of,
in front of, in lieu of, in favor of, in place of, in face of, in aid of, in
quest of, in respect of, in search of, in consequence of, etc.
• In + Noun + with: in connection with, in contact with, in common with,
in line with, etc.
• By + Noun + of: by means of, by way of, by virtue of, by dint of, etc.
• On + Noun + of: on account of, on behalf of, on top of, on pain of, etc.
• Other types: at variance with, in exchange for, in return for, in
addition to, in relation to, etc.
E.g.

I am standing here on behalf of company.
The match was cancelled because of the rain.
They were unable to attend because of the bad weather in

Ireland.
Jack will be playing in the team in place of me.
In addition to getting a large fine, both brothers were put in
prison for three months.
I always get nervous when I have to speak in front of an
audience.
We estimate that there’ll be up to 10,000 people at the concert
succeeded by means of perseverance..

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There are many complex prepositions but the most common ones are:
Table 1.2: Complex prepositions
Along with

Apart from

Aside from

As for

As to

Away from

According to

By means of

By way of

By dint of

By reason of

By virtue of

In case of

In front of

In relation to

In charge of

In view of

In need of

In spite of

In quest of

In favor of

In place of

In common with

In consequence of

In respect of

In search of

In connection with

In contact with

In aid of

In line with

In exchange for

In addition to

In lieu of

In to

At variance

Off of

On to

Out of

Owning to

On account of

On behalf of

On top of

On paint of

Except for

But for

Because of

With regard to

1.3.2. According to semantic relation
1.3.2.1. Prepositions of Place
A preposition of place is a preposition which is used to refer to a place
where something or someone is located. There are only three prepositions of
place, however they can be used to discuss an almost endless number of
places.
At: A preposition of place which is used to discuss a certain point
In: A preposition of place which is used to discuss an enclosed space
On: A preposition of time which is used to discuss a surface

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Prepositions of place allow you to be very specific when talking about
where action takes place in stories or when discussing important details for
communication purposes. Prepositions of place give you the ability to tell
others where something is located. In the following examples, the
prepositions of place have been italicized for ease of identification.
E.g. They spend dinner at home.
Marie was born in France.
Please place the bouquet on the table.
1.3.2.2. Prepositions of Time
A preposition of time is a preposition that allows you to discuss a
specific time period such as a date on the calendar, one of the days of the
week, or the actual time something takes place. Prepositions of time are the
same words as prepositions of place, however they are used in a different
way. You can easily distinguish these prepositions, as they always discuss
times rather than places.
At: This preposition of time is used to discuss clock times, holidays and
festivals, and other very specific time frames including exceptions, such as “at
night.”
In: This preposition of time is used to discuss months, seasons, years,
centuries, general times of day, and longer periods of time such as “in the
past.”
On: This preposition of time is used to discuss certain days of the week
or portions of days of the week, specific dates, and special days such as “on
New Year’s Day.”

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Prepositions of time allow you to tell your readers when things are
taking place. They are vital parts of speech to use in stories, as well as when
writing simple communications, reports, and other items.
There may only be three prepositions of time, but the ways in which
you can use them are almost endless.

In the following examples, the

prepositions of time have been italicized for ease of identification.
E.g. My parents grew up in the 1960s.
My vacation ends on Monday.
Meet me at 7:30
1.3.2.3. Prepositions of Direction
Prepositions of Direction illustrate paths of travel or motion
E.g. We flew from Vietnam to USA just to see The Statue Of Liberty.
The other two common prepositions of direction are “Into” and “Onto”
which respectively signifies movement toward a surface and movement
toward the interior of a volume.
E.g. The dog is jumping into the lake.
Marry just put the plate onto the table.
1.3.2.4. Prepositions of Manner, means, instrument
The prepositions of manner comprise “with, in, like”

as in the

following sentences:
E.g. We were received with the utmost courtesy.
The task was done in a workmanlike manner.

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The army swept through the city like a pestilence.
(Quirk, R, 1973: 158)
It is noted that like with intensive verbs, as in: Life is liked a dream,
refer not to manner but to resemblance.
The prepositions of means and instrument include of by, with, without.
By can express the meaning “by means of”:
E.g.

I usually go to work by bus/train/car.
The thief must have entered and left the house by the back door.
By working the pumps, we kept the ship afloat for another 40

hours.
(Quirk, R, 1973:158)
With, on the other hand, expresses instrumental meaning as in:
E.g. He caught the ball with his left hand
Someone had broken the window with a stone
(Quirk, R, 1973:158)
1.3.2.5. Prepositions of Accompaniment
There is only one preposition with the meaning of accompaniment
which is preposition “with”. Especially when followed by an animate
complement, with has the meaning “in company with” or “together with”.
E.g. I’m so glad you’re coming with us
Jock, with several of his friends, was drinking till 2 am.
(Quirk, R, 1973:159)
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In the sentence above, the With phrase serves a function very close to
coordination with and: “Jock and several of his friends were……..”
Prepositional phrase of accompaniment functions as post-modifier thus in:
E.g. Curry with rice is my favorite dish.
(Quirk, R, 1973:160)
1.3.2.6. Prepositions of Support and Opposition
There are three prepositions: for, against, with expressing the meaning
of support or opposition. Thus in:
E.g. Are you for or against the plan?
(= Do you support or oppose the plan?)
Remember that every of us with you
(= on your side)
(Quirk, R, 1973:326)
For conveys the idea of support, with that of solidarity or movement in
sympathy, against conveys the contrary idea of opposition.
1.3.2.7. Prepositions of Cause or Reason
There are prepositions expressing either the material cause or the
psychological cause for a happening:
E.g. Because of the drought, the price of bread was high that year.
On account of his wide experience, he was made chairman.
(Quirk, R, 1973: 56)

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Other prepositions of cause or reason include: for, from, due to, owing
to, etc. Phrase of cause and reason answer the question “Why”
1.3.2.8. Prepositions of Purpose or Intended Destination
Let us consider the following examples:
E.g. Everyone ran for shelter.
He’ll do anything for money.
(Quirk, R, 1973:156)
The use of for illustrated above have in common a notion of purpose.
The notion of purpose can be seen from the possibility of paraphrase by a
clause in order to: for money = in order to gain money. Phrases of purpose or
destination answer the questions “Why….?”, “What…for?”, “Where…for?”,
“Who….for?” They frequently occur as post-modifiers as well as adverbials:
The scenery for the play, etc.
1.3.2.9. Prepositions of Concession
There is variety of prepositions expressing the concessional meaning,
such prepositions or prepositional phrase as: despite, in spite of, for + all,
with + all, notwithstanding. Convey the same meaning, concession, though
there is still a little difference in meaning between them and they are often
separated from the main clause by a comma.
E.g. I admire him, in spite of his fault.
He lost the fight, for all his boasting.
(Quirk, R, 1973:161)
With all his boasting and ostentatious training, he was knocked
out in the first round by a man lighter than himself.
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