Prepositions: 16 ways to use ‘by’ in English

Categories English By JadePosted on Format Film
Prepositions: 16 ways to use ‘by’ in English

‘By’ is such a small word, but it’s not simple! In this lesson, I’ll show you many different ways to use ‘by’ as a preposition. I will teach you through specific examples and situations so that it’s not just theoretical. For advanced English learners, I’ll also teach you prepositional phrases with ‘by’, such as ‘by appointment only’. Using these prepositional phrases is a great way to elevate your English to a more sophisticated level. Practice what you’ve learned with the quiz:

10 ways to use 'FROM’ in English:


Hi, everyone. In this lesson we’re looking at how to use the preposition „by”. „By” is such a common word; we use it all the time, but because of that, it can be confusing. „Am I using the right preposition?” So, in this lesson I’m going to go over lots of examples of when you should use „by”, give you the rules of grammar; and also towards the end of the lesson, teach you new uses of „by” that you might not know yet because they’re advanced.

Okay, let’s start with communication. Here’s an example sentence: „You can enter the competition by text message, by post, by letter, or by email.” These days it’s not so common to enter a competition by post, but when I was younger watching children’s television, that was often one of the main ways to enter the competition.

Okay, moving on to transport now. „P” stands for „preposition”. This shows us that in this example of grammar, „by” is being used as a preposition. „She’s coming to London by car, by plane, by taxi, or by train.” When we’re talking about transport, the mode of transport, how we go somewhere – we use „by” as the preposition.

Three: Error. „Error” means this is wrong; a mistake. „I’m sorry. I did it by mistake.”, „I did it by accident. Oops. I did it by accident. I’m sorry.” These are the only two examples you need to remember for error.

Next one is luck. „We met each other by chance.” I didn’t plan to meet you today. I’m walking down the street: „Oh, there you are!” In that situation, I met you by chance. This means same thing as „by coincidence”. „We met each other by coincidence.” Also similar to the meaning of „fate”. This was meant to be, in a way. You walk down the… well, not… coincidence… when people talk about coincidence, they mean: „This is just random it… this happened”, whereas if they talk about fate, it’s like: „It was planned to be by the gods” or something like that.

Next use of „by” is for next to. And when we use „by” in these sentences, we mean: „This thing is positioned next to the other thing.” Used as a preposition: „The cat is by the window.” Here’s the cat-„meow”-here’s the window. The cat is by the window. Another example: „Your boots are by the stairs.” Here are the stairs going up, here are your boots. „Your boots are by the stairs.” And lastly, here: „My keys are by the door. My keys are by the door.” More examples coming up.

Next we have using „by” when we want to say who did something. These example sentences, here, are all examples of the passive voice. That’s a grammar term. If after I’ve explained this, you want to know more, pause the video and go and… go and check out Adam’s lesson on this. Let’s look at these sentences: „’Sunflowers’ was painted by Van Gogh”. „Sunflowers” is a painting. Van Gogh, the artist, painted it. We can take this sentence, and swap it, and say: „Van Gogh painted 'Sunflowers’.” But in this sentence, which is the passive voice, the thing that comes first in the sentence is the obje-… Is the object. „Sunflowers”, the painting comes first, rather than the artist. And the reason we do passive voice sentences is because this is more formal writing, or we might see it written in an essay or something like that.

Next example is: „I was invited by Mr. Smith.” Mr… I’ll change it around: „Mr. Smith invited me” would be the other way to say this. Next example: „My computer was repaired by the IT Department.” I can change that one around and say: „The IT Department repaired my computer.” So, in all of these sentences, to form the passive voice we use the preposition „by” in the example sentences.

Next let’s look at using „by” as a preposition when we’re talking about how to pay for something. We can say: „by cash, by credit card, by PayPal”. „You can pay for your computer by cash or by credit card in this store.”

Next… next we have how something is sold. Let’s look at the examples. So, did you know that in England: „Eggs are sold by the dozen”? You get 12. A „dozen” means 12 eggs. „By the dozen”. Fabric – material that’s in our… makes our clothes and furniture, like sofas: „Fabric is sold by the metre.” You go in the shop, and the fabric is all on those rolls, and they say: „How many metres do you want?” Fabric is sold by the metre. […]