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Getting Smarter through Language

Lesson 10. Verbs and prepositions (Basic, A1 Level):
congratulate, distinguish, fight, interfere, specialize

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Note. This lesson has examples using the present and past tenses.

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• congratulate

When you are happy for someone else’s success or achievement, you congratulate them.

You congratulate people on a promotion, on getting a new job, on buying a new house, on earning a good grade in school, and so on.

Examples: congratulate on
  • I want to congratulate all of you on finishing the course.
  • I’m sending John a card to congratulate him on the new baby.
  • I congratulate you on buying your first house. That’s a big accomplishment.
 

• distinguish

To distinguish means to see or recognize a difference between two people or things. You can tell those people or things apart. For example, some people are very good at distinguishing different colors.

You distinguish between A and B.

You can also say you distinguish A from B.

Examples: distinguish
  • These colors are difficult to distinguish.
  • They’re brothers. Their voices are hard to distinguish on the phone.
Examples: distinguish between A and B
  • These species of birds look very similar. How can you distinguish between them?
  • You are an adult! You should be able to distinguish between right and wrong.
  • When you first start learning a new language, sometimes you cannot distinguish between similar sounds.
Examples: distinguish A from B
  • Something that distinguishes dogs from cats is that dogs are more dependent on humans.
  • Very small children cannot distinguish real life from fantasy.
  • How do you distinguish poisonous mushrooms from non-poisonous mushrooms.
 

• fight, fight for, fight against, fight with, fight about, fight over

To fight someone can mean you are actually hitting or arguing someone. It can also mean you are just going against someone or something (for example, you can fight someone’s idea).

You can fight over something and to fight about have very similar meanings. You fight about a general topic, and you fight over a specific topic. It often does not make a difference if you use one or the other.

You an also say that one person is fighting with the other person. This can mean that you disagree with the other person or you resist their ideas.

When you fight for something, it means you really want something, but you must do whatever is necessary to do it or to get it.

Fighting against something is the opposite of fighting for it. This means you are against something, so you fight for what you believe is right.

To fight against can also mean you disagree with something, so you want to stop it from happening.

Examples: fight
  • Sometimes children fight when they are playing.
  • Let’s stop talking about this. I don’t want us to fight.
  • If you want to be successful, sometimes you need to fight.
Examples: fight for
  • Sometimes we need to fight for what we want.
  • John fights for the poor in his community.
Examples: fight against
  • Carla fights against racism.
  • John is fighting against cancer.
Examples: fight with
  • Elizabeth is fighting with his coworker over who is going to work on the project.
  • Children sometimes fight with other children when they play.

Examples: fight about, fight over
fight about
  • They often fight about what TV show to watch.
  • Married people often fight about money.
  • The students are fighting about who will be the team leader.
fight over
  • The children are fighting over the last slice of pizza.
  • The neighbors are fighting over the noisy dog.
  • John and Mary are fighting over who is going to cook dinner tonight.

• interfere

When you interfere, you get involved in something that perhaps you should not be involved in. You try to influence the result (and sometimes people get annoyed by that).

you can interfere in something. For example, mothers and fathers often interfere in their adult children’s lives.

You can also interfere with something when you get in the way or stop something from happening. For example, it is not a good idea to interfere with other people’s romantic relationships.

Examples: interfere in
  • Americans do not like it when the government interferers in their personal lives.
  • You can come observe my work, but you must not interfere in it.
  • John is mad at me because I interfered in his plans.
Examples: interfere with
  • Don’t let your emotions interfere with your decisions.
  • Problems at home can interfere with a young student’s ability to learn.
  • Certain foods can interfere with your brain chemistry.

• specialize

When you specialize in something, you do only that one thing. For example, if your business specializes in computer parts, you only deal in computer parts.

Examples: specialize in
  • Mr. Espinoza is a historian. He specializes in colonial American history.
  • John and Carla’s restaurant specializes in vegetarian dishes.
 

Assess Your Learning

Practice 1. Fill in the blanks using the correct prepositions after the verbs in this lesson.

Practice 2. Complete sentences using the verbs and prepositions in this lesson.

Congratulations on completing this lesson!

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