Grammar time! Today we’re looking at three combinations of words that you will see together frequently. When learning another language, it’s very helpful to learn and memorize combinations. This saves time, helps you recognize patterns, and explains weird rules that don’t make sense.
In English, there are some prepositions that almost always follow certain adjectives in certain situations. You will simply need to memorize these combinations and when to use them.
- Remember, adjectives are words that describe nouns. Prepositions are words that show location or connect words.
Let’s look at three combinations.
This adjective – married – is used to indicate the condition of marriage. Married describes the person and their condition of marriage. We use the preposition “to” after the adjective “married” to show who shares in the condition of marriage.
It follows this pattern: married + to + person. It always follows this pattern, unless you’re forming a question.
- I am married to him.
- He is married to Julia.
- Are you married to Fred?
Notice the pattern: married + to + person.
- I am [married] + [to] + [him].
- He is [married] + [to] + [Julia].
- Are you [married] + [to] + [Fred]?
- I am married him. (This sentence doesn’t make sense because it doesn’t have the preposition.)
- He is married Julia. (This sentence doesn’t make sense because it doesn’t have the preposition. Or it seems like you’re talking to someone named Julia and you mean to say, “He is married, Julia,” telling Julia that someone male is married.)
- Are you married Fred? (This sentence seems like you’re talking to someone named Fred and mean to say, “Are you married, Fred?”, asking Fred if he is married.)
Be careful to not get confused between using the adjective “married” by itself and when you need to use the preposition with the adjective.
- Adjective + preposition combo = who they are married to. Use the adjective + preposition combination when you want to show who the person shares the marriage status with. Who they are married to. Example: I am married to Sally.
- Adjective = married status. Use only the adjective if you simply want to show that the person is married, to show their marriage status. Example: I am married.
“Interested in” shows interest in a certain topic or subject. For example, if I have interest in doing something or pursuing an idea, I use this pattern of adjective + preposition / interested + in.
It follows this pattern: interested + in + topic. It always follows this pattern.
- I am interested in painting.
- He was interested in graphic design but not anymore.
- We are interested in going with you to the park.
Note the pattern: interested + in + topic
Here’s the breakdown of the pattern for each example.
- I am [interested] + [in] + [painting]. (Painting is the topic that you express interest in doing.
- He was [interested] + [in] + [graphic design] but not anymore. (Graphic design is the topic.)
- We are [interested] + [in] + [going with you to the park]. (The topic that we are expressing interest in doing is going to the park with you.)
- I am interested painting.
- He was interested graphic design but not anymore.
- We are interested going with you to the park.
All of these examples are missing the preposition “in” and don’t make sense.
Be careful not to get confused between the use of just the adjective “interested” and the adjective + preposition combination of “interested in”.
- Adjective Only = referred interest. Use just the adjective “interested” to show interest in what the person already referred to. Example: Would you like to go to the movies with us? I am interested.
- Adjective + Preposition Combo = specify where your interest is. Use the adjective + preposition combination when you want to specify where your interest is at or what interests you. Example: I am interested in going to the movies with you.
“Angry at” is a combination that expresses anger and describes someone who is angry and why they’re angry. When you’re angry at something or someone, you direct your anger towards that something or someone, usually because they did something to make you angry.
- She was always angry at the dog for sleeping on her toes.
- They are angry at the government.
- I will be angry at you if you don’t do the dishes.
The pattern for this combination is: “angry” + “at” + “someone/something”.
- She was always [angry] + [at] + [the dog] for sleeping on her toes. (The dog made her angry.)
- They are [angry] + [at] + [the government]. (The government made them angry.
- I will be [angry] + [at] + [you] if you don’t do the dishes. (You will make me angry if you don’t do the dishes.
Note that the last part of the combination is always an object or a person – the dog, the government, and you.
Be careful not to confuse the difference between just the adjective “angry” and the adjective + preposition combination of “angry at”.
- Adjective + Preposition Combo = specify who or what. Use the adjective + preposition combination when you want to specify who or what made you angry. Example: I am very angry at you.
- Adjective Only = anger. Use just the adjective “angry” when you simple want to express that you are angry. Example: I am very angry.
Notice that in all three of these examples, you use the preposition with the adjective to specify details regarding the adjective. “Married to” specifies who you are married to. “Interested in” specifies what you’re interested in. “Angry at” specifies who you’re angry at.
Understanding, learning, and using these three combinations will help you become even more fluent in speaking and using English. The easiest way is to memorize this. When you use the adjective, remember that you probably need to use the preposition if you’re going to express more information.
And just for fun, check out this example with all three examples:
I am angry at you for being interested in getting married to that guy.