Advanced English Grammar



Prepositions of Ways and Means


The prepositions of ways and means show how, why, with what and what for. They are those little words that play a big role in communication and understanding.

Look over the list of definitions with samples below and then do the exercise that follows. You can check your answers afterwards.

** Showing LIKE or HOW

AS = in the capacity of someone's profession/ habit

He takes over as managing director next month.

BY = by degrees

“Inflation is growing fast, isn't it?” “Yes, it's getting higher by the day”.

LIKE = behavior; in the manner of

She always acts like a child when she doesn't get her way.

WITH = having a quality of manner

He ran the race with spirit and enthusiasm.

** Showing WHAT FOR or PURPOSE

FOR = the express purpose

This machine is used for making computer screens and televisions.

IN = a part of a process

These chemicals are used in the film developing process.

TOWARDS = to do something for a specific purpose or reason

I'm putting this money towards a new a car.

** Showing WHAT WITH or BY WHAT

BY = A. instrument (human or object) B. means C. agent (in the passive) D. author / creator

A. He was killed by a falling boulder.
B. You'll have to come by air if you want to get here before Thursday.
C. The new shopping mall was built by a private company.
D. Have you read the new book by Stephen King?

BY MEANS OF = means (more formal than by)

The winner was chosen by means of a secret ballot.

VIA = by way of

We flew via Brussels is to go to Athens from New York.

WITH = instrument (usually object with a human subject)

The man robbed the bank with a fake revolver.

Prepositions of Ways and Means exercise


1. Wood pulp is used ___ the production of paper products.
2. How should we vote for class president? ___ a show of hands.
3. My parents put some money ____ my university education.
4. Stop acting ___ such a fool. Sit up and pay attention.
5. How will you go to New York? ___ Paris I think.
6. After he heard the news he just stood ___ a bowed head.
7. He was hit ___ a bottle thrown from the crowd.
8. He worked ___ a janitor before he went into acting.
9. He was assaulted ___ a knife as he went through the park.
10. He has been doing it ___ a hobby for 15 years.

 Your score is  

For more information about prepositions of ways and means click on the preceding link.