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Lesson 4. Verbs and prepositions (Basic, A1 Level):
approve, happen, help, care, matter, plan, prevent, work

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• approve, approve of

You approve something such as a project or a plan. This means you accept it officially.

You also approve of something. That means you believe something is good or acceptable. In this case, you can say, “I approve!” If you include the object, you must use the preposition and say “I approve of it.”

Examples: approve something
  • This is a good plan. Everybody approves it.
    (Everybody accepts it as a good plan.)
  • Parents must approve the children’s trip before they can go.
    (They must accept it officially.)
  • I need to show my plans to my boss because he must approve them.

Examples: approve of something
  • This is a good plan. Everybody approves of it.
    (Everybody thinks it is a good plan.)
  • I don’t approve of children staying up late.
    (I think it is bad for children to do that.)

• care, care about, care for

You can use “care” without a preposition. It means you are interested or worried about something.

You can include the person or thing and say you care about someone or something.

When you do things to help someone, you care for that person. You do things to make sure that they are okay.

As an expression, you can also say you don’t care for something or someone when you don’t really like something or someone very much.

  • You don’t need to explain what happened. I don’t really care. (I don’t care what happened.)
  • I don’t care if you’re tired. You must finish all the work.
  • Teachers help their students because they care.
Examples: care about
  • If you care about the environment, you should take public transportation.
  • Anna listens to Joe’s problems carefully because she cares about him.
  • Jack doesn’t study very hard. He doesn’t care about learning.

Examples: care for
taking care of people
  • Joann is caring for her sick little brother right now because his mother is not home.
  • The old man cares for his wife.
  • It’s difficult to care for baby birds.

not liking very much
  • — Let’s go have Mexican food!
    — Sorry. I don’t care for Mexican food. Can we go somewhere else?
  • I’m not enjoying my English course. I don’t care for the teacher.

• happen, happen to

Things can just happen (no preposition).

When something happens and someone receives the effect or consequence of it, you say it happens to someone.

Examples: happen
  • — What happens at 0°C?
    — Water freezes.
  • Many accidents happen on this street every week.
  • Look at the TV! I think something is happening in New York!

Examples: happen to
  • — What happens to water at 0°C?
    — It freezes.
  • What is happening to John? He looks angry.
  • Sometimes bad things happen to good people.

• help, help with

Sometimes you just help (or help someone). You do not need a preposition.

You can also say that something helps or does not help (without a preposition). This means that it makes (or does not make) something better, easier, or more convenient.

You can also help someone

If you include the type of help, you can say help someone with something.

Examples: help
just helping
  • Are you having problems with this? Can I help? (Can I help you?)
  • If you are having difficulties, your teacher can help. (… your teacher can help you.)
meaning “make something better or easier”
  • If you are having a headache, resting can help.
  • Exercise helps people lose weight and stay healthy.
  • All your talking is not helping.
Examples: help with
  • May I help you with your homework?
  • Parents can help their children with their schoolwork.
  • I’m not good at math. Can you help me with this problem?

• matter, matter to

When something matters, it is important.

You can also say something matters to someone. Then it’s important to that person.

Examples: matter
  • — Where can we put these boxes?
    — It doesn’t matter. Put them anywhere you find room.
  • We should be kind to people because every person matters.
  • You can always learn something new. It doesn’t matter how old you are.

Examples: matter to
  • — Where should I put the books?
    — It doesn’t matter to me. Put them anywhere you find room.
  • Doing well in school matters to Pedro because he wants to go to college.
  • Carlos drives an old car because having expensive things doesn’t matter to him.

• plan, plan for, plan on

To plan something means you think and decide what to do in the future.

You can also plan for something, for example, plan for the future.

You can say “plan to do something” or “plan on doing something.”

Examples: plan
  • The students are planning a surprise party for the teacher.
  • Every Sunday, she plans her whole week.
  • Teachers must plan their course before they start.
Examples: plan for
  • People like to plan the future.
  • We are going to the beach this weekend, but we need to plan for rain.
Examples: plan on (doing something)
  • After a long week, I plan on staying home and doing nothing all Saturday.
    (I plan to stay home and do nothing…)
  • The students are planning on having a party for the teacher next week. (They are planning to have a party…)
  • — What are you planning to do this summer?
    —I’m planning on going to Miami.

• prevent, prevent from

”To prevent” means to stop something from happening or to make sure that it does not happen.

You can prevent something (without a preposition), but often you say you prevent something from happening.

You can also prevent someone from doing something.

Examples: prevent
  • Vaccines prevent illnesses.
  • Diet and exercise prevents heart disease.
  • The president is trying to prevent a conflict with the other country.
Examples: prevent from
  • You can’t always prevent children from getting hurt.
  • The bad weather did not prevent us from enjoying the beach.

Note. Mostly in British English, you may hear “prevent something happening” or “prevent someone doing" (without the preposition).

• work, work as, work on, work for

"To work" means to have a job or to do something as part of a job. You can also say “to work a job.”

When you include a person’s profession or occupation, you can say someone works as something (for example, to work as a teacher).

When something is good for you, you can say it works for you.

To say something works for you can also mean that you think it is a good idea or a good plan.

When something has an effect on you, you say it works on you.

Examples: work
  • — Does John work?
    — Yes. Actually, he works two jobs! He’s a teacher, and he works at a restaurant on the weekends.
  • — Where does Jane work?
    — She works in a hospital.
Examples: work as
  • My friend works as a doctor in a large hospital.
  • Pedro works as a teacher in that school.
  • Does Joe work as an engineer or an architect?

Examples: work for
have an effect
  • People drink coffee when they’re sleepy, but that doesn’t work for me.
  • People say this allergy medication is really good, but it doesn’t work for me.
good for me / good idea (expression)
  • Sarah: Can we meet on Friday?
  • Pedro: Sorry. Friday doesn’t work for me. How about dinner on Saturday?
  • Sarah: Saturday works great for me.
  • Pedro: How about watching a movie after dinner?
  • Sarah: That works for me!
       (I think that’s a good idea.)
Examples: work on
  • Sometimes children cry because they want you to do something for them. That doesn’t work on me.
  • All your negative comments are not working on me. I’m going to do what I want.
  • Saying that going to the park is going to be fun isn’t working on the children. They still want to stay home and play video games.

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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