Preposition Mistakes #4: Surprised and Ignorant

By Maeve Maddox

Preposition usage does change from century to century, but never, I suspect, as quickly as it seems to be doing now. Here are some examples of unconventional usage from the Web:

Surprised + preposition

INCORRECT: In effect, he said no one should be surprised from Donald Trump’s behavior.—Political commentary blog.
CORRECT : In effect, he said no one should be surprised at Donald Trump’s behavior.

By would also be correct, but in the context, at connotes “taken aback by.”

Ignorant + preposition

INCORRECT: There’s nothing wrong with being ignorant to something, especially when you can admit to it.—Business advice blog.
CORRECT : There’s nothing wrong with being ignorant of something, especially when you can admit to it.

Off + of

INCORRECT: In 1966, a jumper leapt off of the south World Trade tower—and was promptly arrested.—Encyclopedia of Extreme Sports, 2008.
CORRECT : In 1966, a jumper leapt off the south World Trade tower—and was promptly arrested. (“Leapt from” would also work.)

When the intention is to describe motion, off does not require the additional preposition of:

The cat jumped off the table.
The shoe fell off my foot.

Some speakers use off of as a synonym for the preposition from:

INCORRECT: That highlights a problem that confronts every company that earns its money off of ad dollars: it’s hard to generate cash from online ads.—Business article at The Washington Post. 
CORRECT : That highlights a problem that confronts every company that earns its money from ad dollars: it’s hard to generate cash from online ads.

INCORRECT: Coming off of a loss in his last start, Syndergaard pitched five innings while yielding 10 base runners on five hits and five walks.
CORRECT : Coming from a loss in his last start, Syndergaard pitched five innings while yielding 10 base runners on five hits and five walks.

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2 Responses to “Preposition Mistakes #4: Surprised and Ignorant”

  • Greg

    What about the sentence, “Arnold raced out of the door”? That phrase is shown during the opening credits of “Murder She Wrote,” and I’ve read other authors who use the same construction. Shouldn’t it be, “Arnold raced out the door”?

  • venqax

    @Greg: Applying by analogy to the explanation given, then it should properly be, “Arnold raced out the door.” No “of” because, “When the intention is to describe motion, off [out] does not require the additional preposition of”. That said, I don’t know where that rule comes from re “off of”, there is no cite given, and I don’t know that even if the rule is valid for “off of” it necessarily applies to all such cases of “motion”. I think “raced out the door” sounds better than “raced out of the door” does. “Out of the door” implies something coming out of the door itself, rather than the doorway which is what one can, really, race out of. “In the haunted house, blood oozed out of door.”

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