Grammar Bite #6: Prepositions You Can’t Live Without

25 November 2010

Can you explain what’s wrong with these sentences?

Please register the course by the end of the month.

Fiona has applied a home loan.

I need to search a new job.


The missing preposition ‘for’

If you noticed a missing preposition – congratulations! In the sentences above, you must follow the verbs with ‘for’.


Here are some correct examples:


You register for something

            Please register for the course by the end of the month.

            I need to register for the event online.

            Jerry registered for the conference in person.


You apply for something (by completing an application form)

            Fiona has applied for a home loan.

            Please apply for your child’s place in kindergarten.

            You can apply for a credit card online.


You search for something (or someone)

            I need to search for a new job.

            The rescue team searched for the missing boy.

            The CSIs searched for evidence at the crime scene.


Other ways to structure sentences using register, search and apply

With register and search you can re-structure the sentence so that ‘for’ does not immediately follow them. But you’ll often add another phrase that starts with ‘for’ to clarify information in the sentence.


Here are some examples:


You register someone

            I registered my son [for kindergarten].

            Joseph will register us online [for the event].


You search something

            The CSIs searched the crime scene [for evidence].

            The rescue team searched the neighbourhood [for the missing boy].

            I searched the advertisements [for a new job].           


The verb apply isn’t always used to talk about someone using an application form. In these cases, the structure is this: apply + noun + to phrase. Here are some examples.


You apply something to something/someone

            The nurse applied ointment to the skin rash.

            In the study, the scholars applied strict guidelines to their research.



Be sure to send me any questions you have about our ‘Grammar Bites’ articles – or post your question in the comments.


Copyright 2014 DeGolyer Associates Ltd |  Contact Deborah at: