That man is found guilty ____ theft​

A) from
B) to
C) with
D) of

The given answer is D (of), can someone explain to me why? Is there any rule for this case?

2 Answers 2


There is no rule to follow here, just convention. The convention is that "of" collocates with "guilty", which means that "guilty" and "of" just go well together. It's part of the rules of the word "guilty". If there were some other adjective in English that meant "guilty", it might use a different preposition.

While most aspects of English follow rules that can be learned and broadly applied to other contexts, prepositions don't work that way. "Guilty of X" is correct only because that's the way we do it, not because of some broader rule.

This means that learning prepositions is one of the hardest parts of learning English, right up there with articles and phrasal verbs.


In this case, only “guilty of theft” makes sense.

You could only use some other prepositions in a different context, with a different meaning. You can be found guilty in a trial, by a jury, with haste, to accomplish some goal of the person who found you guilty, and some others.

But you are always found guilty of a crime. There’s actually a little bit of leeway here. While you can only be guilty of aggravated robbery (where aggravated robbery is the name of a criminal charge that you can be tried for and convicted of), you can be found “guilty from an aggravated robbery at Big Lots in Odessa back in August 2017,” or for stealing over $300K from military veterans” (emphasis added). The difference here is that both of these are talking about specific incidents or acts in the past.

So: you are guilty of a criminal charge, or sometimes from an incident in the past, or for doing something.

Also note that this is not a consistent rule at all. Before someone is convicted of theft, he is suspected of theft, arrested for theft, charged with theft, indicted for theft, and tried for theft. Afterwards, he is sentenced for theft. There’s no pattern or reason. You just have to memorize which preposition goes with which verb.

  • +1 for finding "guilty from", which I would have said is just plain wrong. Your second example, however, doesn't apply both because "plead guilty" cannot take the preposition "of", and because "for stealing over 300K" applies to "pleads guilty [to fraud]", not "guilty".
    – gotube
    Sep 11, 2022 at 15:20
  • @gotube Here is one of many examples of “found guilty for”.
    – Davislor
    Sep 11, 2022 at 15:56
  • I agree that it happens often in English. I'm only talking about the parsing. I parse "guilty for" as meaning "guilty of [crime name] for [specific criminal action]". In other words, these aren't examples of "for" collocating with "guilty", but "for" being used to give the reason for whatever verb phrase came before it. For example, "I got in trouble with my wife for mentioning my ex." This is not an example of "for" collocating with "get".
    – gotube
    Sep 11, 2022 at 20:52

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