Consider these sentences:

1. This rule doesn't apply to/in this situation.

2. What do you agree with/in that statement?

3. He greeted him with/in a horrible way.

If part of a sentence contains
verb ___ noun.

If the verb is followed by a certain preposition and the noun is preceded by a different preposition. Which preposition is used in the blank?

For example, in the first sentence, the verb " apply" is followed by the preposition "to" and the noun "situation" is preceded by the preposition "in" Which one do you use? And how do you determine that?

  • I think , in your example, the sentence 1, requires an adverb. and in this situation is an adverb implying a position or situation. Also the the sentence 3 the the phrase is an adverb.
    – Cardinal
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 20:21
  • Yes, but 'apply' is transitive and intransitive. You can say, "This rule does not apply. Period." Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 20:22
  • However, there are collocations ( As far as I know ), that we should know. like "apply : (~for sb/sth | ~to do sth) " or "agree: (~with sb about/on sth)"
    – Cardinal
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 20:29
  • @VictorBazarov I didn't get your point of . Period.
    – Cardinal
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 20:30
  • 1
    Isn't "What do you agree with/in that statement" wrong either way? Wouldn't it be "What do you agree with in that statement" (i.e. use both prepositions, "with" for the verb and "in" for the object)?
    – kos
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 20:50

1 Answer 1


In most cases which preposition to use is governed by the verb, not the noun, if the noun is the object of the verb:

Do you agree with that statement?

If the noun is not the object (an it's sometimes difficult to discern), like

This rule doesn't applyintransitive (in this situation).

then the preposition is not governed by the verb, and you need to consider idioms involving that noun.

The third example falls into the same category as the second, the phrase

in a horrible way

is an adverbial phrase, defining the verb greeted, which has its own direct object ("him").

In most cases the dictionary entries for transitive verbs contain appropriate prepositions to be used for direct and indirect objects, so look those up!

  • Thank you for explaining, but I am still confused about. Longman dictionary has a sentence example "Do the same rules apply to part-time workers?" And "He greeted him with cries of welcome" are the prepositions govern by the verb because the nouns are the objects? Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 20:42
  • With "apply" Longman seems to either recommend "to", "for", or no preposition at all ("apply lotion", "apply yourself"), and that is with the transitive 'apply'. In your question "apply" is intransitive. The verb "greet" requires no preposition for its object: "She greeted him with a smile" ("with a smile" is an adverbial phrase) Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 21:30

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