What are Prepositions of Agency?

Prepositions of agency express the agency, or “doer”, of an action in a sentence. These prepositions provide clarity on who is performing the action and are usually used with passive verbs to bring agency to the sentence. Examples include “by”, “with”, and “through”.

For example, if you wanted to explain that you designed a website with the help of someone else, you could say “the website was designed by me with assistance from John”.

The use of agency prepositions emphasizes that it was your own effort combined with John’s help that resulted in the success of the website.

Prepositions of Agency Rules

Learning these four critical rules when using phrases with Agency will help communication become clearer and easier. With these four rules firmly entrenched in one’s grammar skillset, any English speaker can properly construct sentences with ease!

ObjectsFirst, always make sure the preposition has an object following it – otherwise, you may end up with a sentence that is barely comprehensible or even incorrect.
PlacementSecond, prepositions should not be used at the beginning of a sentence; instead, include them later as part of a larger phrase.
Reading AloudThird, avoid ending a sentence with a preposition – read your sentence aloud if you need help determining where it feels right.
ContextLastly, take care to choose the appropriate preposition based on purpose and context; using more than one can lead to confusing sentences.
Prepositions of Agency Rules and Explanations Table
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Agency Examples

Prepositions of agency are a type of preposition that indicates the agency, or ability to act, of someone in relation to something.

Examples of this include by, for, from, through and with. For instance, if we say “The book was written by a famous author”, we are implying agency in the sense that the author had control over creating the book.

Likewise, saying “I swear allegiance to my country” implies agency in terms of showing loyalty.

Finally, using “through” in a sentence like “He achieved success through hard work” is also an example agency because it describes how something was accomplished.

Prepositions of agency are commonly used language tools because they nicely provide an explanation of how things were done or who carried out specific tasks.

Agency Exercises with Answers


  • The painting was __ me.
  • __ his guidance, I won the race.
  • _ my hard work, I got an A+.
  • ___ the rules, I passed.
  • ___ the organisation, we extend the invitation.


  • The painting was made by me.
  • Thanks to his guidance, I won the race.
  • Through my hard work, I got an A+.
  • In accordance with the rules, I passed.
  • On behalf of the organisation, we extend the invitation.

Prepositions of Agency List

Prepositions of agency communicate how much agency a person has when performing an action. Here are five examples of the agency preposition in use: 

Own intiativeThe dog barked on its own initiative.
Decide byThe experts decide by consensus.
Through her ownShe won the contest through her own hard work.
They deliveredThey delivered the project with all their effort.
Full responsibility forHe took full responsibility for his mistake.
Prepositions of Agency List Table
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Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners

English language learners and ESL students must learn about agency prepositions for English fluency.

Understanding agency allows a student to explain between who or what is doing the action and who or what the action is being done to or on – this is critical for grammar accuracy! For example, some agency prepositions indicate that someone (or something) caused an event or situation, while others declare that someone has control over a given situation. For instance, agency prepositions can express agency in terms of relationships among people, between people and things, and even agency situated within institutions. In general, agency prepositions provide serious support for grammar accuracy and understanding of English language structures which is essential for so many language learners.

Common Mistakes Made by English Learners

English learners often make mistakes when using prepositions of agency, missing out on the crucial nuance that’s conveyed by properly using these words. For example, a common mistake is substituting “by” with “with” to express agency in a sentence.

Many English learners do this because they aren’t aware that “by” is used to describe agency for a single actor, whereas “with” expresses agency for multiple actors. To avoid mistakes like this and to demonstrate an accurate understanding of agency in English, it is important for aspiring language learners to have a solid grasp of prepositions of agency. With practice and plenty of intentional use, you can learn how to use these words correctly and with confidence!

Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand preposition form of means and preposition form of result.

Common Mistakes:

1. Incorrect Tense

Why it Happens

Not having a firm grasp on correct preposition usage can confuse your statements. This can cause you to use the wrong prepositions and misconstrue your message.

Correct Use

When speaking English, you would use a preposition that reflects the subject in question. Keep context in mind when selecting your prepositions.

2. Lack of prepositions

Why it Happens

The easiest mistake is leaving out determiners when needed. Failing to use these in phrases can lead others to misinterpret what you are trying to express.

Correct Use

Prepositions join words to a person, place, or thing – for example, ‘the cat meowed’ or ‘I love pasta’.

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3. Inconsistency

Why it Happens

People forget how they described something before and change the context in a contradictory manner. This confuses the reader.

Correct Use

Be sure that your prepositions remain consistent throughout your writing. There should be no sudden shifts from ‘they’ to ‘this’ unless there was a clear shift in the thing being described.

4. Incorrect Usage

Why it Happens

You don’t know which prepositions to use, so you use too many and it confuses the statement.

Correct Use

Using too many prepositions can make your writing sound monotonous and can also lead to viewers losing interest. Therefore it is important to focus on expressing yourself clearly and effectively with them.

Tips to Avoid Common Mistakes:

Using the right prepositions of agency can be tricky, but it is useful to keep certain pointers in mind so that common mistakes are avoided.

  • It’s important to be aware of the distinction between agency constructions that require ‘by’ and those that require other prepositions, such as ‘on’, ‘to’, and ‘for’. For example, when describing a method or target group ‘by’ is normally used (e.g. by telephone; by mail), whereas when describing a system or organization ‘on’, ‘to’ or ‘for’ is usually used (e.g. on the internet; to the UN; for new mothers).
  • In addition, when talking about agency related to something being done, always place the verb first before any agency preposition (e.g. provided by; covered in).
  • Finally, exercise caution when using agency phrasal verbs such as look after and take care of – they are more common than agency phrasal nouns like looker-after.

If you follow these tips and stay mindful of agency expressions you should find yourself speaking and writing with grammatical accuracy!

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Learning Agency Strategies and Best Practices

When learning prepositions of agency, the best practices are to practice using them in conversations. To begin, you should focus on understanding how agency works in short phrases and gradually move to more complex sentences.

By immersing yourself in opportunities to use agency grammar, including reading and listening for agency phrases, engaging with media that uses agency language extensively, or joining conversation groups that highlight agency usage, you can greatly improve your mastery of this invaluable skill. With enough practice, agency phrases will become part of your everyday conversation. Keep reading for more useful tips:

Tip 1: Study a List

Why it helps

Learning the various forms and using them properly in speaking and writing is easier than it seems with daily practice. A list can simplify this process and make it seem less daunting.

Daily Life Example

The best way to learn to use determiners correctly is to study a list of prepositions and their usages, and then practice writing sentences with them.

Tip 2: Practice Reading

Why it helps

Exposing yourself to prepositions hidden between other words can help you identify them faster and more accurately.

Daily Life Example

To ensure that you understand how frequently a type of preposition should be used it’s important to practice reading with them as well, so the meanings become clear. So keep a book of your choice on hand and highlight every preposition you come across.

Tip 3: Everyday Conversations

Why it helps

By applying the prepositions exercise to everyday conversations, you’ll find these words easy to remember and use in the near future.

Daily Life Example

Take your time when speaking to people. Take note of the prepositions they use, and try and repeat them back in different contexts. You can also do this from the comfort of your home by recording yourself or using an AI assistant.

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Prepositions of Agency Frequently Asked Questions

Agency prepositions are grammatical constructions that allow a noun or a pronoun to indicate the agent or doer of an action.

Three examples of agency prepositions are ‘by’, ‘with’, and ‘through’. The agency preposition ‘by’ is most often used in passive constructions e.g. “The task was completed by me”. The agency preposition ‘with’ indicates accompaniment and can be used in constructions such as “She arrived with her friends”.

Finally, the agency preposition ‘through’ typically indicates involvement or contribution – e.g. “Everything was done through hard work”. Being able to use agency prepositions accurately will strengthen your writing overall and make you sound more proficient in the language.

Prepositions of agency are verb particles that allow a noun or pronoun and an action to be linked. Examples of agency prepositions include ‘by’, ‘through’, ‘for’, and ‘on’. These types of prepositions attribute agency to the person, concept or thing initiating the action made by a noun.

For example, “The project was done by Jane.” In this context, the agency is attributed to Jane – she is the one initiating the project.

Additionally, formulas for an agency are applicable in a range of contexts such as sentences with passive constructions or indirect objects. Understanding agency within a language can help speakers become better communicators.

To effectively teach prepositions of agency, it is important to provide students with clear examples they can understand. Start by introducing the concept and explaining that agency involves a person or object carrying out a task or action. After this, explain the importance of prepositions when discussing agency.

Give your students specific examples through story-telling and writing exercises so they can practice using the correct prepositions with agency-related sentences. To make sure that everyone has truly grasped the concept, have them come up with several examples of their own to present in front of the class. By doing this, your students will be able to gain agency over their understanding of prepositions.

Prepositions are a powerful tool of agency in grammar. Acting as connecting words between two related pieces of a sentence, prepositions provide an essential function in conveying relationships with clarity and precision.

A preposition expresses the temporal, spatial, or logical relationship between two elements – for example, a relationship of time (before, after), space (behind, beside) or logic (of, for). Additionally, when used alongside personal pronouns (“I,” “me,” etc.), prepositions provide agency to the speaker and grant them control to determine their relationship with another person or object.

Because of their agency-granting powers, it is no wonder that prepositions can be found so often throughout the English language!

Prepositions are words that indicate agency in a sentence. They show the relationship between a noun and another word or phrase, allowing us to construct sentences with greater clarity and meaning.
Prepositions are short, but powerful words; included in this group are ‘to’, ‘of’ and ‘in’. These prepositions often appear at the beginning of phrases, and their presence can have an effect on the agency of the sentence overall.

For example, in variations of the sentence “John ran to school,” we can alter agency by changing the preposition from “to” to “from”. This changes the agency from John running towards school to John running away from school. We can see how such simple changes in prepositions can drastically alter agency.

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