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ESL Lesson: Prepositions

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In this story you will find a lot of expressions with Prepositions. It is best for you to learn these phrases within a context so you will memorize them more quickly. Each preposition can be used in a lot of different combinations forming many different meanings. Take a look at these examples with the preposition about:

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— "I think it's about time for us to leave."
— "Our new boss is probably about 40."
— "May I ask you a question about your family?"
— "What's this noise all about?"
— "How about going to the cinema tonight?"
— "What are you going to do about this situation?"

As you can see the preposition about doesn't make any sense without the context it is used in. That's why you should always learn complete expressions instead of separate words.

Now read the short story and try to work out what the expressions in italics mean. (There are a 147 prepositions in the text and only a part of them is in Italics to make the story easier to read.)

"How I got that Job"

At the time I was living in a small village about 25 miles from London. That was the advantage of living there because you could get to London in under half an hour. That was by train of course. If you went by car it would take about three times as long and you would sit in your stationary car for ages before you got anywhere especially if you travelled in the morning rush hour. The reason why I am giving you this travel information in detail is because I had to make a choice between the car and the train.

I had seen an advertisement in a national newspaper, which had asked for someone who had some knowledge of computing, had worked at least for two years in car sales and finally was not afraid of travelling up and down the motorway to London every day from a place not far from where I lived. It seemed interesting work and was quite different from the job I had at the time. The interview was to take place at 10 am on a Monday morning in January.

Throughout the weekend I could not make up my mind whether to travel by car or by train. At the end of Sunday I had decided it was going to be the car. In the end I had convinced myself that this was the best choice because after all the job was to do with cars.

On the day of the interview I got up at 6 am as I was terrified of being late. I usually woke up early because the noise of the traffic as it rattled past my bedroom window was very loud first thing in the morning. On this particular morning everything seemed strangely silent. I looked out of the window and realized why: There was a thick blanket of snow on the road and it was still snowing heavily. I panicked. All my resolution had disappeared. Clearly now I would have to go by train. I telephoned the station and asked what time the next train down to London would be. I was informed that all services had been cancelled. I asked by whom they had been cancelled. I never knew the answer to that question because I had been cut off.

Obviously I would have to think over my plans for the day. From my bedroom window I looked down at my snow-covered car. That was my last hope. After breakfast I managed to brush off all the snow from the car and by a good stroke of fortune I managed to get it started at the third attempt. I drove along the road that led up to the motorway with a light heart because everything seemed to be going well. It was almost fun with the sun shining through the clouds and the snow gently falling down on to the car. But that feeling did not last long. As I reached the slip road that joined the motorway I saw an enormous queue of cars one behind the other. I realized I was stuck right in the middle of a huge traffic jam. In my mind I started to go through the qualities that were needed for the job. Among the requirements were: ability to work under pressure, calmness in the face of difficult circumstances and a determination to see a job through to the end. I reviewed the situation. It was 9 am by now and on a normal day the drive would take about forty-five minutes. On a day like this it would be impossible to gauge. I decided to relax. After all nobody else could travel so why should I worry about it? Within five minutes the traffic was moving again and for the next two miles I was driving along the motorway at quite a good speed.

And then it happened. I skidded off the road and into the bank by the hard shoulder. There was a loud bang and steam started to pour from out of the car bonnet. I glanced at my watch. It was fifteen minutes to ten and there were still about 10 miles to go. Fortunately I had my mobile phone with me and called the car assistance firm, who promised to come as soon as possible. I also phoned the firm I was supposed to be having an interview with, apologized and said I might be a little late. They didn't sound very friendly. One hour later the repair people arrived but they couldn't start the car. They towed it away to a garage and dropped me off at the nearest railway station.

I think I must have got the only train that was running that day. Eventually I reached my destination at 11.30 am just one and a half hours late. The interview panel asked me some really difficult questions and as I left to go home, I thought that I had failed miserably. Two days later I received a letter. They offered me the job because I had shown "presence of mind and determination". I was feeling very pleased with myself. Apparently I had shown ability above the average and had scored well over any other candidate. It wasn't until I had been there for three weeks that I found out the truth.

I had been the only candidate who had managed to get to the interview on that snowy day ten years ago.

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Next:ESL Lesson: Spot the preposition

Author: Alan Townend




English Grammar through Stories (PDF)
English Grammar through Stories could be your saviour — it shows you a completely new way of learning. Forget about old-fashioned text books with difficult explanations and boring sample sentences. You can improve your grammar very fast if you know how. The answer is a few clicks away: Read these unique short stories by Alan Townend and absorb the patterns of English grammar automatically. You can only learn if you enjoy what you are doing. You will love the funny characters in English Grammar through Stories because they show the strengths and weaknesses of human nature. On top of all that, each story concentrates on one particular grammar item so all you have to do is read the book and have fun. You will be amazed at how easily you can improve your grammar.

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