The World Cup and Prepositions

Mexico's coach Miguel Herrera celebrates after the victory over Croatia in Group A
Emotional … Mexico’s coach Miguel Herrera celebrates after the victory over Croatia in Group A. Photo: AFP (Michael Lynch, Senior sports reporter with The Age)

As the World Cup is a very popular event for many countries, this is a perfect time to write a post about  the World Cup,  and link it to Prepositions.

Why??!! Well, …. if you can connect (link) new knowledge to something you know, it is much easier to remember.

Let’s start by having a look at some simple rules about Prepositions:

  • PREPOSITIONS show the CONNECTion between  NOUNS / PRONOUNS. (Nouns  are the names of things, places, or people. Pronouns replace nouns. ‘Noun’ = ‘Name’)

The World cup is a very popular event for many countries.

This is a good time to write a post about prepositions and link them to the World Cup.

Mexico’s coach Miguel Herrera celebrates after the victory over Croatia in Group A. (See photo above.)

Germany’s Thomas Mueller scored his fourth World Cup goal to pull level with Lionel Messi and Neymar in a 1-0 win over United States that gave his side top spot in Group G.     (The Sydney Morning Herald, June 27, 2014)Fourth goal of the World Cup -  Thomas Mueller celebrates his win. Photo  Reuters, Sydney Morning Herald

Fourth goal of the World Cup: Thomas Mueller celebrates his winner. Photo: Reuters

 Tim Howard, whom Klinsmann has called one of the world’s top five goalkeepers, is coming off the best club season of his career with Everton and will be starting in his second World Cup. (The Washington Post, June 11, 2014)


If you take the prepositions out of the above sentences, the meaning will not be clear.  For example:

With Prepositions: Mexico’s coach Miguel Herrera celebrates after the victory over Croatia in Group A.  (Mexico won. Croatia lost.)

Without Prepositions:  Mexico’s coach Miguel Herrera celebrates the victory Croatia Group A. It sounds like Croatia won! The meaning is the opposite!


Look at the following sentences:

The Mexican team are in Brazil.

Chile lost to Brazil.

Without Luis Suarez, Uraguay lost.

In a country of 200 million people, when every boy grows up wanting to play for the Selecao, there’s a special kind of pressure on Brazilian footballers. (Michael Lynch, Senior sports reporter with The Age)

* This is a very useful rule! English learners often don’t know when to use prepositions. However, if you remember that prepositions connect nouns, and prepositions must be followed by a noun, you will understand why they are so important. The sentences above would not have a clear  meaning without the prepositions.

* Of course, there are often exceptions to rules. Prepositions are followed by nouns, but not all prepositions are acting like prepositions. Prepositions are often part of Collocations and Phrasal Verbs. For example, ‘to break up’ can mean ‘to end a relationship’:

My boyfriend and I broke up before I moved to America.

The word ‘up’ does not mean ‘up’ in the usual, prepositional sense, so it does not have to be followed by a noun. Look at this sentence:

My boyfriend and I ended our relationship before I moved to America.

There is one preposition in this sentence, ‘before’, which is important for meaning, and as you can see, it connects the noun ‘relationship’ and the pronoun ‘I’.

I will explain this rule in a future post. Until then, enjoy your English studies. Leave a comment if you have any questions.


If you would like to read all the latest news on the World Cup, I recommend Michael Lynch who is a senior sports writer with the ‘Age’ newspaper. His English is very impressive: exciting, colourful, and descriptive. I love the way he writes. Click here to read more sports news. 

This entry was posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Grammar, Intermediate (Level 4), Reading, Upper Intermediate (Level 5) and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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