I kinda know how to use propositions for space/time, but how do I choose correct prepositions for abstract concepts?

It makes much sense to say "In these circumstances" for me? Is it correct?

Also these:

In conclusion

At what cost

Above all

On diet

Is there any pattern for choosing those prepositions for them?

Or these words actually have very subtle position/timing relations that I don't know?

  • [I kind of know]
    – Lambie
    Dec 11, 2019 at 5:10

2 Answers 2


Preposition usages also varies depending on which version of English you're speaking. U.S. English, for example, will use "different from" or different than" but British English will use "different to" which sounds very wrong to an American.

Also, I'd agree that some of the examples you've posted are idioms that may use prepositions in ways not otherwise common in the languge.


This is something of a non-answer, but I think it is going to be difficult to find patterns. Preposition use is very idiomatic, and varies quite a bit between languages. Knowing how prepositions are used in English does not help much with using them in, say, Spanish. You just have to get a feel for it.

“Under these circumstances” and “in these circumstances” are both correct, and have about the same meaning. “In these circumstances” would be more commonly used, I think.

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