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OET Grammar and Punctuation: Prepositions

Five healthcare workers are gathered around a table smiling and talking.

Using the right words in English can sometimes be tricky, especially with words like prepositions. If you're getting ready for OET, it's important to know how to use these words correctly. This isn't just for the test – it's also to make sure you can speak and write clearly in your healthcare job. In this blog, we'll outline some different uses of prepositions with examples of how to use them in the right way. By the end, you'll feel more confident using these words in OET and at work.


What are prepositions?

Prepositions are words that link nouns, pronouns, or phrases to other words within a sentence. They help to show the relationships between the different parts of a sentence, often indicating time, place, direction, or manner. For instance, the prepositions "in", "on", and "at" can indicate time or place, depending on their usage.


Understanding types of prepositions


Time Prepositions: These indicate when something happens.

Examples include: "at" 3 p.m., "on" Wednesday, "in" February”, "during" the patient's visit, and "until" the medication finishes.


Place Prepositions: These indicate where something is or where something happens.

Examples include: "at" the clinic, "in" the operating room, "on" the third floor, "between" the radiology and pathology departments, and "under" the microscope.


Direction Prepositions: These show movement from one place to another.

Examples include: "to" the pharmacy, "from" the laboratory, "over" to the next ward, "under" the surgical light, and "through" the hospital corridor.


Manner Prepositions: These describe how something is done.

Examples include: "by" injection, "on" an empty stomach, "in" a sterile manner, "with" care.


Cause or Reason Prepositions: These explain why something happens.

Examples include: "due to" a viral infection, "because of" low blood sugar, "from" lack of exercise.


Many nouns, verbs and adjectives have prepositions that commonly go with them. It is a good idea to memorise these pair patterns. Here are some of the most common preposition pairs you will find in healthcare.


1. Nouns + prepositions

Certain nouns are commonly paired with specific prepositions. Here are some examples:


Risk of

Example: The patient is at a high risk of developing diabetes.


Symptoms of

Example: She presented with the classic symptoms of influenza during the winter season.


Treatment for

Example: The doctor recommended a new treatment for her condition at the clinic.


Reaction to

Example: The patient had an allergic reaction to the medication.


Increase in

Example: There has been a significant increase in cases of measles this year.


Reduction in

Example: A healthy diet can lead to a reduction in cholesterol levels.


Exposure to

Example: Prolonged exposure to the sun can increase the risk of skin cancer.



2. Verbs + Prepositions

Many verbs that you will encounter in healthcare also use specific prepositions:


Admit to

Example: He was admitted to the paediatric department.


Diagnose with

Example: He was diagnosed with pneumonia last week.


Recover from/after

Example: It took her three months to fully recover from/after the operation.


Protect against

Example: Vaccines help to protect against many infectious diseases.


Adhere to

Example: It's essential for patients to adhere to their medication schedule for optimal results.


Benefit from

Example: Patients with respiratory issues often benefit from physiotherapy.



3. Adjectives + prepositions

Notice how adjectives are often linked to specific prepositions as well:


Prone to

Example: Elderly patients are often more prone to fractures.


Immune to

Example: After vaccination, the body becomes immune to certain diseases.


Satisfied with

Example: The patient was satisfied with the care he received during his hospital stay.


Aware of

Example: Medical professionals should be aware of the latest research in their field.


Susceptible to

Example: Children and the elderly are often more susceptible to flu complications.


Concerned about

Example: The patient was concerned about the potential side effects of the treatment.


Resistant to

Example: Some bacteria have become resistant to standard antibiotics.



Prepositions for time: days, weeks, months, and more

Understanding how to use prepositions with time-related terms is crucial, especially in the healthcare sector where scheduling and timing can be of utmost importance. Here's a guide to help you navigate these rules:


Days of the week:

Use "on" for specific days.

    • Example: The patient has an appointment on Friday.


Parts of the day:

Use "in" for general times of the day, like morning, afternoon, and evening.

    • Example: The surgery is scheduled in the morning.

However, use "at" for night.

    • Example: The patient usually takes the medication at night.


Specific dates and holidays:

Use "on" for specific dates and holidays.

    • Example: The clinic will be closed on July 4th.



Use "in" for months.

    • Example: Flu vaccinations are usually available in August.



Use "in" for specific years.

    • Example: The hospital was established in 1999.



Use "in" for seasons.

    • Example: Allergy symptoms often worsen in spring.



Use "for" to indicate a duration of time.

    • Example: The patient was hospitalised for five days.

Use “since” to indicate the point in time when an action began.

    • Example: He has been in hospital since



Prepositions play a crucial role in ensuring our sentences make sense. This is especially true in the healthcare sector where clarity is paramount. By understanding and practising the use of these common preposition pairings and types, you'll be better prepared to excel in the OET and communicate effectively in a healthcare setting.

Remember, practice makes perfect! Keep revising these rules, be aware of common mistakes, and use them in your daily conversations and writing.Try our quiz below to check your understanding of prepositions.



Test yourself with our quiz


Fill in the blanks with the appropriate preposition:

  1. The clinic has seen a significant reduction ___ cases of chickenpox due to vaccinations.
  2. The patient was concerned ___ the long-term effects of the medication.
  3. The research indicates a potential risk ___ heart disease in individuals with a sedentary lifestyle.
  4. The child had a severe reaction ___ the new dietary supplement.
  5. Many individuals benefit ___ regular check-ups to monitor their health.
  6. The patient was diagnosed ___ a rare genetic disorder after extensive testing.
  7. The community has seen an increase ___ awareness about mental health issues.
  8. The doctor advised the patient to adhere ___ the prescribed medication schedule for best results.
  9. The patient prefers to take his blood pressure medication ___ the evening.
  10. The health fair will take place ___ December 15th.
  11. New medical interns usually start their training ___ January.
  12. The research facility was inaugurated ___ 2010.
  13. The patient has been on this specific medication ___ three weeks.
  14. She has been seeing her therapist ___ the incident last month.






  1. in / 2. about / 3. of / 4. to / 5. from / 6. with / 7. in / 8. to / 9. in / 10. on / 11. in / 12. in / 13. for / 14. since