What are Prepositions of Manner?

Prepositions of manner answer the question “how” as they refer to how things are completed or how they happen. Another name for them is prepositions of method. This article will focus on the most common prepositions of manner: by, in, on, and with.

But before we get into the details, let’s look at some examples of prepositions of manner in sentences:

  • The least exhausting mode of travel is by plane.
  • She opened the package with a box cutter.
  • Jose slammed his fist on the table in anger.
  • I will paint the artwork on a canvas, but I’m not sure how big.
  • Mira stuck the cardboard together with double-sided tape.
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Prepositions of Manner Rules

Prepositions require objectsPrepositional phrases contain prepositions and their objects. Although some sentence structures split prepositional phrases, their objects can be identified easily. Let’s look at some examples:

– His book was translated into multiple languages.
By the skin of my teeth, I’ll get it done.
– He’s picking me up on his motorbike.
PlacementIn most sentence structures (except in some regular and rhetorical questions, and reported speech), prepositions are almost always found before their objects. For example:

– The teacher lifted him by his collar.
– Absent scissors, he tore the packet off with his teeth.
– He went to school on foot.

Take note that objects of prepositions function differently from objects of verbs. Objects of verbs typically “receive” actions. On the other hand, objects of prepositions are nouns or pronouns either referenced or affected by the preposition, which doesn’t necessarily receive an action.
Pronouns as Objects of PrepositionsWhen the object of the preposition “with” refers to something that is owned or possessed by a person or a thing, we use possessive determiners: my, our, your, his, her, its, their. For example:

– Peach hit the violent dog with her bag.
– We’ll complete the essay with your expertise.
– They’ll cook with whatever’s handy in the woods.
Table of Rules for Prepositions of Manner

Examples of Prepositions of Manner

1. Our group will travel on land so we’ll rent a van.

2. With a frown, Kellyn considered the suggestions.

3. I’ve never gone around the coast on a yacht.

4. Sylvia edited the piece on the file itself.

5. The delegation arrived in a huge and flashy limousine.

6. I’d like to attend the premiere with you.

7. They transport the goods by ship so it could take a while.

8. Only Hailey can accept defeat with grace.

9. By organizing the exhibit, Tim helped out so much.

10. Their boss is evaluating their input by word count.

11. We could travel on foot but that will be tiring.

12. Why did Haruki leave the conference room in a rage?

13. Our guides cut through the foliage with machetes.

14. She starts prepping by marinating the meat.

15. Isn’t it a bit painful driving cross-country on a motorcycle?

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Prepositions of Manner Exercises with Answers

Exercise on Prepositions of Manner

Choose the proper preposition of direction from the options given.

1. The only way to survive watercolor is to paint _______ patience.

a. with

b. by

2. Cleon was _______ tears by the time Tae Jin finished his speech.

a. with

b. in

3. We would’ve taken longer if we were _______ a raft.

a. on

b. in

4. Leonie prepares for the worst _______ making at least two copies.

a. with

b. by

5. _______ a strong grip, Paco opened the jar easily.

a. with

b. on


1. a: The only way to survive watercolor is to paint with patience.

2. b: Cleon was in tears by the time Tae Jin finished his speech.

3. a: We would’ve taken longer if we were on a raft.

4. b: Leonie prepares for the worst by making at least two copies.

5. a: With a strong grip, Paco opened the jar easily.

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Prepositions of Manner List

Below is a list of prepositions of manner with their definitions and examples:

Asexhibit ability or capacityTherese works as a copy editor for Rook & Sons.
By  showing measurementThe vendors are selling it by the kilo.
indicating a process or procedureThao ensures quality by triple checking.
use of an objectJustin was hit by a rock
mode of transportationWe will travel by ship.
Inbehavior or emotionPhillis entered the room in shock.
specific meansThey showed up in a truck.
Onto show methodHe came here on a train.
Throughdone by someone or something associated with a personWe were able to buy it through his contacts.
Witha companionHe wants to go on a date with me.
an instrumentI’d rather sip lava with a straw.
behaviorWith a sly grin, he delivered the punchline.
methodJosh lifted the table with ease.
Prepositions of Manner Table

Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners

Use Grammar ListsLanguage tools such as lists and tables cannot fully substitute for books, but they are extremely useful guides that break down complex grammar subjects into simplified segments. They also often come with useful sample sentences. The most efficient way of utilizing this technique is to fashion your own lists and tables from topics you are currently studying. Doing so logically personalizes your material, customizing them to suit your learning preferences and language needs.
Use Audio-Visual ResourcesIndependent learning is extremely helpful addition, not to mention inevitable, a traditional way of learning, i.e. a classroom setup. But in order to maximize its benefit, you should use the proper tools. By adding your favorite English language films, TV shows, social media channels, music, and podcasts to your self-study routine, you’ll acquire vital insight into how native and non-native English speakers use English in various social, academic, and professional situations. This will eventually advance your understanding of language elements and improve your overall fluency.
Practical UseMany English language learners find the process of learning extremely challenging because they live or study in places where English isn’t widely spoken by the general public, if at all. The only practical way to improve English proficiency is to use it regularly in communication, which puts many students at an innate disadvantage. Don’t lose heart if you’re under similar conditions. There are ways to create the English environment you lack. For example, organizing a study group. This will provide a chance to explore the English language with other people who have similar goals. Gather your friend and fellow students and consolidate language exercises you can benefit from such as discussions, role-play activities, interviews, and so on. Furthermore, you can nurture personal relationships with English speakers, native and non-native alike, which can lead to regular usage of the language.
Table of Advice for English Learners
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Common Errors Made by English Learners

Common ErrorsExplanation
Wrong Preposition  Learning prepositions is challenging because each one can have multiple meanings, with each definition having a unique function. It’s important to study the definitions of each preposition and be mindful of how they’re used in sentences. For example “with” a car doesn’t mean the same thing as by car. The focus of the preposition “with” is being there as a companion. The meaning of the phrase can be argued that the person who came with a car may not actually be in the car at all, while the prepositional phrase by car means that’s how the person traveled. Learn these differences and practice them in writing and speaking. Eventually, you’ll be able to pick the right preposition when you need to.
Overthinking Rules  Grammar rules exist mainly to explain the “building blocks” of the English language and why parts of speech are used a certain way. However, it can’t be denied that some of these rules are arbitrary. You will notice this with how much they overlap. Also, there aren’t any unified standards that all English books and references adhere to. So you will encounter different ways of classifying prepositions across various references. You need to be aware that these things exist so as not to get stuck trying to rationalize one particular rule from another.

For example, prepositions of manner are sometimes clumped together with prepositions of movement and purpose. And sometimes, they are broken down into separate types. While rules are important, you should put more focus on “chunks” of language and how they are used and follow that instead of getting to the bottom of why the rule exists. For instance, knowing exactly why we use “at Easter” but “on Christmas Day” is a futile endeavor. Memorizing the correct phrases and using them as they are is a better use of your time.
Intransitive and Transitive Verbs  Prepositions can be used to establish a connection between intransitive verbs and nouns that can act like their objects to some degree. For example:

– He cooked with a clay pot.
– They sang in a single note.

On the other hand, prepositions shouldn’t be used with the objects of transitive verbs.

– He cooked the meat.
– They sang the song.

These sentences have transitive verbs and adding prepositions to their objects (e.g. He cooked by the meat or They sang with the song.) would make the sentences incorrect.

Many English language students are confused about when to use prepositions. It’s either because they don’t know if a preposition is necessary to a sentence or they’re translating directly from their native language, which sometimes doesn’t have the same parts of speech as English.
Prepositions of Manner Common Errors Table

Learning Strategies and Best Practices with Prepositions of Manner

In English, prepositions are some of the most prolific words. But their sheer number and multiple meanings can pose a challenge in mastering them. You should be aware that prepositions are almost never learned individually. In fact, many students use them naturally without giving them deeper thought. Instead, they learn through exposure and experience. They hear phrases spoken a particular way and add those to their own vocabulary. The following are some best practices when studying and using prepositions of manner:

  1. Unless you want a career in linguistics, you don’t really need to know all the intricacies of English grammar. Prepositions are one of the most perplexing topics you can ever come across. It could be a hole you’ll find difficulty crawling out of. Instead of focusing on their individual meanings, study them in phrases. Listen to English speakers and take note of how these phrases are used. Try them out in your speech or writing when you get the chance. There are standard expressions in English, which are often independent of rationale. It’s just the way they’re spoken. So avoid asking “Why do you use this and not that?” Instead, start asking “How do you say this?” This manner of learning will improve your aptitude more meaningfully.
  2. When in doubt, consult a grammar list or a dictionary. Moreover, you don’t need to use prepositions at all. If you’re having a hard time choosing the right preposition, why don’t you practice your paraphrasing skills instead and reconstruct your sentence so that a preposition isn’t needed? For example, “I studied in/at/on Italy last year.” You can just say “I studied overseas last year: Italy.” and it’s perfectly fine.
  3. Read, practice, talk. The more language exposure you have, the stronger your background knowledge. In time, you’ll be well-versed in choosing the right words and using them accurately.

Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand preposition form of time and preposition form of place.

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Prepositions of Manner Frequently Asked Questions

Prepositions of manner connect the relationships of nouns or pronouns in sentences to how they exist, occur, or finish.

Below are some examples:

– It wasn’t so bad traveling by fast craft.
– They called her through her landline.
– I don’t have a problem going there on foot.
– Mariano received the criticism with an open mind.
– His daughter opened her birthday present in a hurry.

Of course! Pay no heed to anything that states otherwise. There is no known grammar rule that prohibits ending sentences with prepositions, even though there’s an opposite claim that has gained notoriety online.

The sentence “They don’t know what they’re talking about.” will always be a superior sentence to “They don’t know about which they are talking.” The second sentence, although grammatically correct, sounds pompous, awkward, and ridiculous. If someone insists that “What are you looking at?” is wrong and the correct way of saying it is “At what are you looking?”, take a step back, flee the scene, and never look back.

Kidding aside, you will find many sentences ending in prepositions in this article and countless others in various literary works and publications.

Any “most common” vocabulary list in English is never absolute. Because English is continuously evolving, new words or phrases gain popularity regularly and are later integrated into standard usage. Brunch, for example, wasn’t initially recognized as a standard word. The word “cute” used to mean ´short and ugly.” So, this list of the 10 most common prepositions may change over time: in, on, to, for, at, by, from, with, of, and about.

Definitely not, and the rule on this is absolute. Prepositional phrases consist of prepositions and their objects. Period.

You may get confused when the object of a preposition is a noun clause, which has a verb, but the entire clause is considered a single unit that functions as a noun. Don’t be confused with gerunds, as well. They may be derived from verbs, but as gerunds, they function as nouns and are no longer considered verbs.

The common preposition classifications are time, place, movement, measure, manner, source, possession, and agency. But be aware that some books and grammar references use different terminology.

For example, prepositions of place (or “location”) can sometimes include direction and movement.

Another example is prepositions of measure are sometimes called prepositions of degree. If you want a more detailed and dedicated article for each type of preposition, feel free to explore our blog. is run by language specialists that aim to present the fundamentals of the English language with self-directed instruction in mind. Visit our grammar page and you will see a list of articles not only for every type of preposition but also for every grammatical topic imaginable.

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