GMAT Prepositions and Idioms Practice

I love when the GMAT Club post about prepositions and idioms. It’s a great way to quickly get an English lesson on something specific, useful, and important.

The GMAT verbal section heavily tests your ability with prepositions and idioms. Today’s post talks about two specific prepositions and the idioms they can be found in: “of” and “for”.

First, a few general comments about prepositions and idioms:

1) Prepositions are always closely followed by a noun or pronoun, or something that functions as a noun (like a gerund or a substantive clause).

2) Usually prepositions are singular. However, it is possible to have a compound preposition (“out of,” “because of,” or “as of,” for example).

3) Idioms are figures of speech–a saying that means much more than its literal meaning.

Compound Preposition: “Of”

It’s important to know about prepositions and idioms, particularly compound. Here’s some wisdom from The GMAT  Club.

A preposition can have as its object either an ordinary noun or (more likely on the GMAT) a gerund phrase, but if we want to put a full noun + action phrase, the GMAT frowns on having a [noun] + [participle] follow a preposition.  This latter structure demands a full subordinate clause.  In fact, this is precisely the difference between “because of” and “because.”

Preposition: “For”

There are also many verbs that use the preposition “for,” but what do we make of the idiom “responsible for”?


This idiom is an example of the same root word taking the same preposition in different forms.  Both the noun responsibility and the adjective responsible take the preposition “for”

responsibility for

responsible for

In both cases, the agent who “is responsible” or who “has responsibility” is the person/thing on whom events depend, and the object of the preposition “for” is the process or event  or person or thing that the subject controls or influences.

19) The President is ultimately responsible for the actions of the entire Executive Branch of the government.

20) While the Moon’s gravitation is responsible for the overall cycle of the tides, the Sun’s gravitation is responsible for the difference between spring tides and neap tides.

21) Patients’ rights groups complained that the proposed medical malpractice reform essentially would absolve doctors of any responsibility for their professional decisions.

If you struggle with prepositions and idioms and their uses, check out their functions to get in some good practice. It is important to see and learn these in context as you apply to Virginia business schools.

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