What are Prepositions of Degree or Measure?

Prepositions of degree or measure express quality or quantity. Like the name itself, they indicate measurements in various contexts: standards, rates, or values. There are only a few prepositions delegated to the context of measurement. The most common ones are at, by, for, to, and of.

Here are some examples of prepositions of degree or measure in sentences:

  • It can run smoothly at 120 kilometers per hour.
  • She bought the bag for 450 dollars.
  • Please pass me a slice of pizza.
  • You will gain about 1000 to 3000 followers.
  • My twin sister’s older than me by 5 minutes.

Prepositions of Degree or Measure Rules

Prepositions require objectsPrepositions always have objects. They comprise what we call prepositional phrases. For example:

– The increase rate is at 3% consistently.
– I’ll share a portion of my lunch with her.
– You were only ahead by a few seconds.
PlacementTake another look at the sentences above and pay attention to where the prepositions are. They appear before their objects or always before nouns or pronouns. Below are some more examples:

– The download bar is currently at 65%.
– A generous slice of cake would be great.
– They don’t measure by inches in this country.
Pronouns as Objects of PrepositionsWhen the object in a prepositional phrase is a pronoun, it should always be in the objective case: me, us, you, him, her, it, them. This rule isn’t so significant with prepositions of measure as we typically deal with numbers. Also, “it” is the usual word used in cases where pronouns go with prepositions of measure, and is almost always accompanied by “of”:- This soap is solid. Three bars of it is enough for a month.
– I’m not terribly in the mood for pizza, but a slice of it is good.
– We don’t need a wide space in the yard to plant the seeds. A small patch of it is adequate.
Table of Rules for Prepositions of Degree
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Examples of Prepositions of Degree or Measure

Let’s discuss each preposition of measure more closely and look at how they are used in sentences.

1. At

We use the preposition “at” to indicate a thing’s specific price or value. It can express percentage, speed, temperature, or specific points on a scale (height, weight, and so on).

  • Why would anyone want to marry at 27 years old?
  • The cheapest room in this hotel is priced at 35 dollars a night.
  • I was here yesterday, and the conference began at 9 a.m. sharp.
  • Your popularity with voters under thirty years old is at forty-five percent.
  • The value of the property, including the ranch, is estimated at 4 million dollars.

2. By

The usage of the preposition “by” is similar to “at.” However, it’s mostly used in comparisons to show rates of increase or decrease. It may have escaped your notice, but we also use it in mathematical equations, specifically in multiplication and division. Furthermore, “by” portrays how things are measured or sold. Lastly, we use it to express the scope of victory and defeat in contests, sports games, elections, etc.

  • This product model is heavier by two kilograms than the other one.
  • They measured the area by square feet, not by square meters.
  • I need a table longer than this by at least 3 more feet.
  • It was close, but in the end our team won by 5 points.
  • By how many points do I need to be ahead to win the special award?

3. For

The preposition “for” tells us how much something costs, how much was paid for something, or how much money was allotted for a particular reason. Additionally, it indicates the length of time and distance. For example:

  • Gina’s estate sold for 2.5 million pesos, roughly 45,000 dollars.
  • Choose any two dishes on the menu for 5 dollars.
  • They were exhausted after hiking on rough terrain for 5 kilometers.
  • We were waiting for 20 minutes before the guest of honor arrived.
  • The policy, along with other riders, is for 90 dollars a month.

4. To

“To” connects ratios and estimates. It’s also used when we compare two things with both values mentioned. For example:

  • I’m not sure but I think there were 40 to 50 guests.
  • During Intramurals, the visiting basketball team won 80 to 76.
  • She was in the city from the 5th to the 9th of May.
  • It’ll probably cost you somewhere from 300 to 400 pounds.
  • The odds of getting hit by lightning are 1 to 15,000.

5. Of

Using “of” is a bit different. To function as a preposition of measure, we typically put a word that signifies a kind of gauge before it. It can also be used to express an abstract value, which means something that can’t normally be measured by number: a piece of happiness, a modicum of respect, and so on. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Why don’t you give her a dose of her own medicine?
  • Newborns hardly give you a moment of peace.
  • It’s a scientific fact that over 70% of the Earth is water.
  • How many gallons of milk do you need?
  • A cup of coffee will fix me right up.
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Prepositions of Degree or Measure Exercises with Answers

Exercise on Prepositions of Degree or Measure

Choose the right preposition of measure from the options given.

1. I need a couple _____ eggs for this recipe

a. of

b. at

2. The inflation rate increased _____ 4 percent this month.

a. by

b. of

3. Solange’s team won the trivia game _____ 20 points.

a. at

b. by

4. Quick! They’re selling clothes _____ marked down prices!

a. at

b. by

5. Should we get a kilo _____ beef, just in case?

a. at

b. of


1. a: I need a couple of eggs for this recipe

2. a: The inflation rate increased by 4 percent this month.

3. b: Solange’s team won the trivia game by 20 points.

4. a: Quick! They’re selling clothes at marked-down prices!

5. b: Should we get a kilo of beef, just in case?

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Prepositions of Measure List

So far we’ve seen the most common prepositions of measure: at, by, for, to, and of. Below is a list of more prepositions of measure although their usage isn’t so common:

Prepositions of MeasureExample
perThey charge 2.50$ per gallon of gas.
upThe value is up 20%.
downTheir advance is down 10 points after half an hour.
above/overOrders above 50$ are entitled to free gifts. It’s a few thousand over my budget.
below/underI’m sorry to tell you that we don’t accept applicants below 21. He is quite popular to club members under 30.
about/aroundIt’s about 50 feet, so it’s quite a drop. You’ll spend around 50 dollars a week.
Prepositions of Degree Table

Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners

Use Grammar ListsTools for language learning like lists, tables, and charts can’t be total replacements for books, but they are handy. They conveniently break down difficult grammar concepts into their essentials and often include sample sentences. The best way to take advantage of this tool is to create your own, which you can make according to your own pace and preferences.
Use Audio-Visual ResourcesSelf-study is an important supplement to traditional school setups. However, in order to gain its highest benefits, you should use the right tools. By adapting your favorite English language films, TV shows, social media channels, music, and podcasts into your daily learning schedule and method, you’ll acquire a valuable background on how native and non-native English speakers use the language in various contexts: social, academic, and professional. Using them meaningfully will improve your understanding of many language elements. This leads to advanced skills in acquiring vocabulary and constructing sentences.
Practical UseIt’s a well-known fact that many English students, especially those learning it as a second language, live or study in countries where the English language isn’t prolific. This poses a great challenge as the only real way to exercise what you’ve studied is to use it frequently. If you are in this position, remember that there are ways to create an environment for yourself. Organizing a study group with like-minded people, for example, will put you together with those you can explore the language with. You can also establish and nurture personal relationships with English speakers, native and non-native alike. Constant practice is the key to advanced proficiency.
Table of Advice for English Learners
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Common Errors Made by English Learners

The following table lists common mistakes with prepositions of measure. Study it to prevent making similar errors:

Common ErrorsExplanation/Example
Of & Have  You may have heard English speakers, especially native ones, use “of” with verbs such as “should” or “must.” This is because it sounds like the word “have,” which is the second part of the modal verbs “should have” or “must have.” For example:

Incorrect: They should of kept quiet.

Correct: They should have kept quiet.
Wrong Preposition  A single preposition can have numerous meanings, most of which are distinctive. But since they are the same word, it can create confusion. Study the definitions of each preposition and take note of how they’re used in sentences. For example, by the dozen doesn’t mean the same thing as for a dozen. The first one refers to how something is sold (The vendor sells her fruits by the dozen), while the second one refers to the products (How much for a dozen of apples?). Learn these differences and practice them when you can. Soon you’ll be able to choose the right preposition that you need for your own sentences.
Verbs  Prepositions are not used with the objects of transitive verbs.

Incorrect: They used for a multi-million-dollar property as collateral.

Correct: They used a multi-million-dollar property as collateral.

Incorrect: Yesterday, my friend Anita finally sold of her car.

Correct: Yesterday, my friend Anita finally sold her car.

The incorrect sentences used prepositions when there was no need to. Some English learners forget when to include the prepositions either because they are unaware of the necessity or they’re translating directly from their own language.
Prepositions of Degree Common Errors Table

Learning Strategies and Best Practices with Prepositions of Degree or Measure

In the English language, prepositions are some of the most commonly used words. Because of their volume and variations in meaning, it can be a big challenge to master them. The following are some best practices to observe when studying and using prepositions of measure:

  1. Knowing what you want to express in your sentences can help you use the correct prepositions.
  2. Prepositions are large in number, and each one can be used with any noun, making varied and extremely numerous configurations. Often, they aren’t taught individually. If you find yourself unsure about the correct ones to use, refer to a list or a dictionary.
  3. Paraphrasing is a language skill. Remember that using prepositions isn’t always necessary. If you’re uncertain about the preposition you’re using, try stating your idea in a way where you don’t need a preposition.
  4. Read, practice, talk. The more prepositions you store in your vocabulary bank, the more convenient, accurate, and natural you’ll be in picking the proper ones when you need them.

Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand preposition form of degree and preposition form of situation and comparision.

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Prepositions of Degree or Measure Frequently Asked Questions

Think of them as “locators” or “connectors” that reference the relationship between words in a sentence. Prepositions have various functions and are classified accordingly. They can explain the following concepts: time, place, movement, manner, agency, measure, source, and possession.

Prepositions of measure express values of various kinds of measurements, degrees, standards, and so on.

Here are some examples:

– They are charging the venue by the hour.
– Her pets consume a kilo of dog food every day.
– The real estate firm valued the land at 15 million dollars.
– Each family that registered has 3 to 4 children.
– Bella is selling her dresses for 20$ each.

Of course not. Despite what the grammar police would say, there is no rule that prohibits sentences from ending in prepositions. It could be considered non-standard practice in formal or business English, but this isn’t strictly enforced. Sentences such as “Who are you talking to?” still sound less awkward and pretentious than “To whom are you talking?”

There probably isn’t an absolute list, but most books agree that the 10 most widely used prepositions are in, on, to, for, at, by, from, with, of, and about. This is mainly because each of those prepositions has multiple and unique meanings.

The preposition “of” can be used to express belongingness or connection. For example “The pages of the book are ruined.” It can also show reference in a sentence such as “This photo of my family was taken 2 years ago.”

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