Learn how to use verbs with prepositions in this post. The prepositions TO and AT are used with some common English verbs. Read lots of natural examples and download a free PDF guide so you can practice this grammar anytime. The PDF download link is at the bottom of this post!
|Verbs with TO|
|go to||Let’s go to the mall!|
|write to||I wrote a long email to my boss.|
|send to||I sent the email to him this morning.|
|talk to||Has anyone talked to Ian today?|
|apologize to||I have to apologize to him for last night.|
|Verbs with AT|
|meet at||Let’s meet at the mall!|
|look at||What are you looking at?|
|stare at||It’s not polite to stare at people.|
|point at||Taylor pointed at the building where she works.|
|shoot at||Larry likes to shoot his BB gun at paper targets in his backyard.|
Verbs with the Prepositions TO and AT
As a language teacher AND a language student, I feel that the best way to learn preposition/verb combinations is to hear and see them used in natural sentences.
However, there are two simple guides for using the Prepositions TO and AT with verbs that I think will be helpful for you.
TO with verbs of movement
We move in the direction of a place; we move towards something
– in the direction of something; towards something
I flew to California when I was 20.
Chris rides her bike to work every day. Her dad drives to the office.
It’s 8:00. Time to go to school.
AT with the location of an action
We do something AT a place
- used to say where something/somebody is
I was at home all day on Sunday.
- or where something happens
I met my wife at the hotel.
Chris sees Neil at work every day.
I used to hang out with my friends at the mall when I was in high school.
Verbs followed by TO
Here are some common verbs that are used with the preposition TO
I wrote an angry letter to the mayor last week about the condition of the roads in town. I want my city taxes to be used to improve the terrible streets near my office. There are big holes in the road!
I write an email to my family in Canada twice a week. I don’t see them very often so emails let me stay in touch.
*Send is more common than write these days. Some people still write letters but emails and instant messaging apps are very common.
I sent an angry email to the mayor last week about the condition of the roads in town.
I send an email to my family in Canada twice a week. I don’t see them very often so emails let me stay in touch
send TO is still used for letters, cards or packages that travel through the mail.
I have to send my Christmas gifts to Canada from Japan in early November. If I don’t they may not arrive before December 25th!
*We apologize to someone for something
I apologized to everyone at the meeting for being late.
The next day, Roger apologized to Andrea for what he said during the argument.
I saw you talking to the boss this morning. What did he say?
Has anyone talked to Ian today? I need to know if he is coming to the office party on Friday.
*Talk with is also used sometimes, but talk to is more common
I saw you talking with the boss this morning. What did he say?
Don’t make these mistakes!
Common mistakes with verbs + TO
TALK is a verb of communication, so many students feel like the preposition to fits with other similar verbs. We do not use the preposition to with the verbs CALL (PHONE), ASK, ANSWER, and THANK.
It’s already 5:30 and I still have more work to do! I’d better CALL my wife and tell her that I’ll be late today. (Learn the adverbs Yet-Still-Already HERE)
(I’d better CALL
to my wife…)
I ASKED Don to help me.
Can anyone in class ANSWER this question?
(Can anyone in class ANSWER
to this question?)
I thanked Don for his help.
to Don for his help.)
Verbs followed by AT
Here are some common verbs that are used with the preposition AT
*We look at someone, something
Hey Dave, could you look at my homework? I’m not sure if this English is correct.
*We also stare at someone, something
There was a strange guy on the train this morning. He was staring at me for 15 minutes.
AT is also used with the phrasal verbs have a look at and take a look at.
My computer has been acting strange. I need to get an expert to take a look at it.
I tripped at the office and everyone laughed at me. I was so embarrassed.
Taylor pointed at the building where she works.
The riot police shot rubber bullets at the angry crowd.
TO and AT – Same verb/different meaning
Some verbs are used before both prepositions with a difference in meaning.
SHOUT AT – SHOUT TO
You shout at someone if you are mad at them.
~My Dad shouted at me for 20 minutes after I broke the window.
You shout to someone if you want their attention. You want them to notice you.
~I saw my friend across the street. I shouted to him so he knew I was here.
THROW AT – THROW TO
If you throw something at someone/something you want to hit them.
~When my brother and I were younger we used to go in the backyard after it snowed and threw snowballs at each other
If you throw something to someone you want them to catch it.
~The fielder quickly threw the ball to first base.
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Good luck with your English study and have a great day!