University of Houston-Victoria

Curriculum and Student Achievement

Idiomatic Prepositions

Some prepositions can be combined with certain other words to create phrases whose meaning is something other than their literal meaning. These phrases are called idioms. An idiom is an expression that is either peculiar to itself grammatically or having a meaning that cannot be derived from understanding the individual words it contains.

Example: To Hang Out With

 Definition: to spend time with, to go somewhere with (often refers to friendship)

** I love to hang out with my sister’s friends. They like to have fun.

** Cyndi and Jimmy enjoy hanging out with each other on the weekends.


Unfortunately, idioms need to be learned by rote. There are no tricks or shortcuts.

Here are some idiomatic uses of prepositions.

  • Agree on a procedure
  • Agree to a proposal
  • Agree with a person
  • Argue about or for a proposal
  • Argue with a person
  • Compare to (when you are showing the likes of two things or putting them in same category)
  • Compare with (when you are examining the similarities or differences of things)
  • Contrast with (only when you are showing differences)
  • Correspond to or with a thing (similar to)
  • Correspond with a person (communicate with)
  • Interfere in someone’s business
  • Interfere with an activity
  • Stand by or with a friend
  • Stand for a cause
  • Stand on an issue
  • Wait at a place
  • Wait by the hour
  • Wait for a person
  • Wait in the rain
  • Wait on a customer