Quick Quiz - At vs For

Using the prepositions ‘AT’ and ‘FOR’ in set phrases and expressions

Today we are focusing on using ‘AT’ and ‘FOR’ correctly in set phrases or expressions. So you can research further, the technical term for when you have particular words which always go together is ‘collocation’.  IELTS examiners check how you use prepositions in collocations, phrasal verbs and prepositional phrases! 

Collocations are phrases with two or more words that always go together, and can be made in a variety of ways:

  • with prepositions: ‘at first’ ‘on closer inspection’ ‘without doubt’
  • verb + noun: ‘take a break’ ‘see a doctor’
  • adjective + noun: ‘complete support’ ‘a close call’
  • verb + verb: ‘try to relax’ ‘allowed to use’

For example, only one preposition collocates with certain words or phrases:

On first I hated science, but now I love it!

Incorrect

In first I hated science, but now I love it!

Incorrect

At first I hated science, but now I love it!

Correct!