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Preposition - By

Preposition - By

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Preposition – By

 

 

Hello! In this lesson, we will learn to use the preposition "by". In previous lessons, we have learned to use the prepositions "in, on, over, under, beside, from, to, with" and "for".

In previous lessons we have learned that prepositions help us describe one person, place, thing, or idea in relation to another person, place, thing, or idea.

Prepositions can be used in concrete ways and in ways that are more abstract. The preposition "by" is no exception. The most common meaning of the preposition "by" is: near or next to. For example, we might say "David and Jennifer live by a store.".

Another common usage of the preposition "by" means: through the medium of. For example, we might say "The international visitors arrived by air.".

Another common usage of the preposition "by" is: by means of a vehicle. For example, we might say "David and Jennifer go to work by car.".  

Sometimes the preposition "by" means: up to a specific time. For example, Jennifer might say "David will be home by 5:00.".

Sometimes the preposition "by' means up to a certain point and past it. For example, "Jennifer and David walk by the store to get to the museum.".

Sometimes the preposition "by" is used to describe a task that is accomplished through the work of something or someone. For example, "Jennifer liked the book by Earnest Hemingway.".

And sometimes we use the preposition "by" to show increments. For example, we might say "Step by step, we are learning English." or "Little by little, the baby bird is learning to fly.".

The preposition "by" sounds exactly like the verb "buy".  It also sounds exactly like the second part of the goodbye greeting "good-bye" or "bye-bye".

Now that we know the many varied uses of the preposition "by", let us listen to the dialog.

David: I am going to play football now.

Jennifer:Are you going by the bookstore today?

David: I think so. Should I buy something?

Jennifer:  Yes, I want the new book by my favorite author.

David:  Little by little, you are buying all her books.

Jennifer:  Yes, I will have one more book to put by the other ones.

David: I am going now – I will be home by 5:00. Bye.

Now that you have heard the dialog with its many forms of "by, buy", and "bye", let us look at each sentence more carefully.

David begins the dialog when he says "I am going to play football now.".

Jennifer responds "Are you going by the bookstore today?". In this question, Jennifer is using the word "by" with the meaning of moving past the bookstore. She wants to know if he will be driving past the bookstore.

David answers "I think so. Should I buy something?". We hear that the verb "buy" sounds exactly the same as the preposition "by". Of course, the meanings of the two words are completely different. If we realize what we are hearing, we know that David is using the verb "buy" and not the preposition "by".

Jennifer answers, "Yes, I want the new book by my favorite author.".In this case, Jennifer uses the preposition "by" with its meaning of: through the work of, written by. How do we know that Jennifer does not mean that the book is next to her favorite author? With the prepositions, as with most of language, context is our clue. We must make educated guesses, and with experience and plenty of listening, we more easily know what the speaker means.

David answers "Little by little, you are buying all her books.". In the expression "little by little", David uses the preposition "by" to express little increments. He means: a little bit at a time. We hear that David also uses the verb "buying" in the second half of the sentence.

Jennifer says "Yes, I will have one more book to put by the others." In this case, Jennifer uses the preposition "by" to mean: next to. She will put her new book next to the other books.

David, meanwhile, is still getting ready to leave. He says "I am going now. I will be home by 5:00. Bye.". In this utterance, David uses the preposition "by" to mean" up to a specific time. He could also say "I will be home before 5:00."

Then David says "bye". We hear that "bye" sounds exactly the same as the preposition "by". David means "good-bye". "Bye" is a common short form.

Now that we have learned the meanings of the sentences, let us listen to the dialog again. Listen to the many uses of the preposition "by" and listen for its homophones "buy" and "bye".

David: I am going to play football now.

Jennifer:  Are you going by the bookstore today?

David:  I think so. Should I buy something?

Jennifer:  Yes, I want the new book by my favorite author.

David:  Little by little, you are buying all her books.

Jennifer:  Yes, I will have one more book to put by the other ones.

David:  I am going now – I will be home by 5:00. Bye.

Excellent! You have learned another useful preposition which can add nuance to your English. And you have enhanced your discernment in listening.  Add this preposition to your repertoire in English.  "Step by step, we are learning English.".