11 Adjective Plus Preposition Games

By Alex Case
Fun collocations between adjectives and prepositions activities, including card games and oral communicative practice

Dependent prepositions such as those after adjectives need a lot of practice in order for students to notice the patterns and to memorise even those that seem quite random. This article explains eleven fun activities that students should be happy to do until they can achieve those two things. As long as students can understand most of the adjectives, many of the practice tasks below can also be used at the presentation stage.

Adjective plus preposition dominoes

Make ten to twenty example sentences for the collocations that you want to present or practice, and split them between the adjective and the preposition (e.g. “I’d love to come out, but I’m not very fond” + “of drinking”). Make sure that they sentences can’t be combined in different ways, perhaps by giving them different topics. Make the sentences into dominoes with the end of one sentence on the left and the beginning of another sentence on the right of each card (“about my test on Wednesday./ Why were you so rude”, etc).

Students work together to put all the cards together in a big circle by joining them in the right way, then they can deal the cards out to play a game of dominoes.

Adjective plus preposition matching pairwork

This can be made from the same kinds of split sentences as in dominoes above, but with the beginnings on a Student A worksheet and the endings on a Student B worksheet. Students match up the halves without showing their worksheets to each other, first by just saying the adjective on the Student A worksheet and the preposition on the Student B worksheet, then reading the example sentences to help and to check their matches.

Adjective plus preposition sentence completion activities

Give students twelve to twenty typical sentence starters for some adjectives that take prepositions like “I’m really keen…”, “I was disappointed…” and “I’m fairly good…” These can be used for the three games below.

Adjective plus preposition sentence completion guessing game

Students make true personal sentences and read out just the part that they have written after the sentence starters (“with the last Spiderman movie”). Their partners then guess which sentence that was written in, using both the meaning and grammar to make the match. It can be useful to give students phrases to play the game with like “No, that’s not possible because I said ‘for’, not ‘about’”.

Adjective plus preposition things in common

Students try to make sentences that are true for everyone in their group like “We are often annoyed by the bus service in this town”, using the sentence stems that you give them.  

Adjectives plus preposition bluffing games

Students pick an adjective or a sentence stem for their partner, who makes a personal sentence as quickly as possible, using their imagination if they can’t think of anything true. Perhaps after follow-up questions, the person who picked that thing to complete then guesses if the sentence was true or not.

Adjective plus preposition descriptions

Make some situations in which students could use lots of the adjectives in writing such as job adverts and qualities of a good foster parent, and ask them to use as many adjectives as they can to write something suitable. They can then compare what they wrote with other groups, suggest ideas to groups who had different topics, and/ or vote on the best description. 

Adjective plus preposition storytelling

Make a worksheet or cards with adjectives which can be used to tell stories such as “afraid” and “kind”. Students take turns continuing a story with the words, using the right prepositions when needed.

Adjective plus preposition pelmanism

Make a pack of cards with around thirty adjectives that take around five to ten different prepositions, e.g. six adjectives that take “from”, six that take “to”, etc. Students spread the cards across the table and take turns trying to find pairs of adjectives that take the same preposition, e.g. “married” and “allergic” because they take “to”. This is easier with the cards face up, or more challenging and fun with the cards face down.

You could also play Random Pelmanism, where students can keep the two cards that they chose if they can find any similarity between those two adjectives, with taking the same preposition being just one possibility.

Adjective plus preposition snap

This is a faster game that can be played with the same cards as Pelmanism above. Students deal out the cards but don’t look at the cards. They take turns laying one card on the table, racing to shout out “Snap!” whenever the last two cards to be shown take the same preposition. If they are first to shout “Snap” when they do match, that student can take all the cards on the table, and play continues.

Adjective plus preposition strangers on a train

Ask students to roleplay meeting for the first time. While they are chatting, students try to use collocations that they are given like “interested in” in such a natural way that their partner doesn’t spot that they were trying to drop them into the conversation (perhaps also dropping in distractor adjective + preposition phrases to make the one that had to use more difficult to spot).

Adjective plus preposition reversi memory game

Make a list of around 20 adjective + preposition collocations which have antonyms. It’s best if these are a combination of ones which have the same preposition as their opposite (“happy with” and “unhappy with”) and ones which have different prepositions (“interested in” and “bored by”, “the same as” and “different to/ from/ than”, etc). Make two-sided cards with the opposites on different sides, and ask students to spread them out on the table (either side up). Students take turns trying to remember or guess what is on the other side of the cards, stopping whenever they make a mistake. Cards which are guessed correctly stay the other way up to be done in the opposite direction next time. The winner is the person who has had the longest string of correct guesses in one go when the game is stopped.

The same game may also be possible with synonyms on different sides of the cards.

Written by Alex Case for Tefl.NET June 2024
Alex Case is the author of TEFLtastic and the Teaching...: Interactive Classroom Activities series of business and exam skills e-books for teachers
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