Preposition Mistakes #2: On, With, From, Around

By Maeve Maddox

The following prepositional errors all occur in a published mystery novel written by a native speaker of American English.

1. in / on

Incorrect: His principles may land him in the gallows.
Correct : His principles may land him on the gallows.

A gallows is a frame for hanging. Examples of idiomatic usage:

A friend will betray you if you see yourself standing on the gallows. If you hang an enemy on the gallows you will be victorious.

Give him a bashing so he won’t come back.  Do it right, [and you] won’t end up on the gallows.

So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai.

2. into / with

Incorrect: The running man nearly collided into the old woman.
Correct : The running man nearly collided with the old woman.

The preposition used with the verb collide is with:

Two Japanese airliners nearly collided with each other in Japanese skies.

The Panamera collided with another car and veered into a traffic light.

Train collides with tractor-trailer in Fort Mill

Speeding motorcyclist dies after colliding with SUV

3. out of / from

Incorrect: She emerged out of the bath.
Correct : She emerged from the bath.

The preposition used with emerge is from:

Approximately ten seconds later, Adams emerged from the tunnel.

When he emerged from the Temple and came into the outer court, a crowd gathered round him and asked why he had stayed so long.

He emerged from university hungry to pursue music composing [sic], engineering and production. 

When they were all gathered together, Napoleon emerged from the farmhouse, wearing both his medals…

He [Francis of Assisi] emerged from that experience with a growing conviction that challenged his previous materialism.

4. around

Incorrect: The marchers circled around the fountain.
Correct : The marchers circled the fountain.

The verb circle includes the meaning of “movement around something.” It takes a direct object:

The congregation followed them in a procession that circled the auditorium twice.

Two officers in an unmarked car circled the area.

However, the planets, instead of circling the earth, circled the sun as it circled the earth. 

We circled the city on our bikes.

The solo sailor who has circled the globe at 17

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3 Responses to “Preposition Mistakes #2: On, With, From, Around”

  • Scott Mellon

    My personal bugbear is “protest against”. Protest is transitive and requires no preposition. However this usage is so entrenched that protest is futile

  • Nancy R.

    This mystery writer needs to subscribe to Daily Writing Tips. Those errors make me imagine someone who is young, didn’t get thorough grammar education in school, and is influenced by peers who also speak and write as he/she does. The writing is not awful, but amateurish.

  • R. Ballard

    I agree with Nancy B., these errors are an excellent example. I would love to hear the writers feedback. It may be the influence of peers who speak and write as he/she does. I say that because, I would think that the peers would correct these obvious errors.

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