Prepositions Exercise (267)

Choose the most appropriate preposition to fit the context in the following sentences.

  • His uncle has been __ the hospital longer than was expected because of complications during surgery.

  • The coffee bar was so crowded that we had to wait __ line for twenty minutes.

  • The political candidate raised $100,000 __ private donations.

  • Winter is no time to travel __ car through the Rocky Mountains.

  • Research undertaken since the 1960s indicates that children become inured to violence because they see so much of it __ television.

Answers and Explanations

1. His uncle has been in the hospital longer than was expected because of complications during surgery.

Someone simply visiting a hospital might be said to be "at the hospital," but someone being treated there for more than a day is "in the hospital." This is American usage; British speakers say that a person is "in hospital."

2. The coffee bar was so crowded that we had to wait in line for twenty minutes.

In a physical setting like a coffee bar or at a bus stop, one waits "in line." Characters in the television comedy Seinfeld wait "on line" for soup, but that’s a regional variation. Making the distinction is useful in the Internet age when "on line" is associated with computer activity.

3. The political candidate raised $100,000 in private donations.

Explaining prepositional use is difficult because there are no hard and fast rules. In this context, of is incorrect because it would suggest that only private donations were being sought. One could say, "$100,000 of the money raised was from private donations."

4. Winter is no time to travel by car through the Rocky Mountains.

When speaking of travel, by is the usual preposition: by train, by plane, by boat.

5. Research undertaken since the 1960s indicates that children become inured to violence because they see so much of it on television.

In indicates that something is happening inside a physical space.

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