Do or Don’t Do – Tips for correcting simple errors


Do or Don’t – Mistakes we make with prepositions.

  • Do or Don’t Do with LIKE.
  • We use LIKE to make a comparison, to say that something looks the same as, or similar to, something else. LIKE in this case is always followed by a noun. For example:

    Incorrect: She looks the same your sister. Correct: She looks like your sister.

    We don’t use LIKE as an adverb to say that something is behaving in the same way as something else, i.e. when it is followed by a verb. For example:

    Incorrect: He looks like he’s running away. Correct: He look’s as if he’s running away.
    Incorrect: She looks like she’s smiling. Correct: She looks as though she’s smiling.

    Note 1: There is a lot of controversy over this last point – some people do use LIKE followed by a verb, but it is incorrect.
    Note 2: If this sentence were in the Past Tense we would put the verb BE into its subjunctive form and say WERE instead of WAS, i.e. She looked as if she were smiling. However, this is quite formal and frequently ignored in today’s spoken English.

  • Do or Don’t Do with OFF and OF.
    We should not use OFF and OF together in a sentence. You will sometimes hear this in American English, but it is not correct. For example:

    Incorrect: This is where I get off of the bus. Correct: This is where I get off the bus.


  • Do or Don’t Do with OF and HAVE.
    Be careful with using OF instead of HAVE. Because the contraction of “I should have” is “I should’ve” a lot of people mistake the ‘VE for OF. For example: I should’ve been there.

    Incorrect: I should of been there. Correct: I should have been there.
    Incorrect: I should of known better. Correct: I should have known better.


  • Do or Don’t Do with OF and FROM.
    You may find that you confuse the prepositions OF and FROM:

    OF generally indicates that something belongs to, or is part of something else. For example:

    My book of rare stamps. The story of the Amazon Rain Forests.

    However, remember that in English we normally use the Saxon genitive (the apostrophe —’s) for possessives, especially when something belongs to a person. For example:

    John’s book. The teacher’s desk.

    FROM is used to say that something or someone has come away from something or somewhere. For example:

    These new gloves are from China. I am from England.

    FROM can also be used to talk about a period of time. For example:

    From beginning to end. From 9am this morning until lunch time.


Related Content:

Wikipedia – Preposition & Post-position
Wikipedia – Like

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