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Identifying Prepositions in Common English Idioms

A Sentence-Completion Exercise


This exercise will give you practice in using the appropriate prepositions with 20 common English idioms.

For each of the following sentences, complete the idiom in italics with an appropriate preposition. When you're done, compare your answers with those on page two (where you'll also find the idioms defined).

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  1. The worldwide success of the national women's team provided a shot _____ the arm for soccer in the United States.

  2. In the early years of the Internet, many telephone companies were caught _____ their pants down.

  3. My grandfather has known Louise ever since she was knee-high _____ a grasshopper.

  4. Some people have no problem with placing a cat's litter box on the carpet, but others feel it's a recipe _____ disaster.

  5. The circus clown had the audience rolling _____ the aisles.

  6. Jason was sloppy and a bit rough _____ the edges, but he was kind-hearted and generous to a fault.

  7. The doctor worked hand _____ hand with the police to help solve the crime.

  8. Beneath Jason's rough exterior lies a heart _____ gold.

  9. My little sister can be a real pain _____ the neck sometimes, but she doesn't mean any harm.

  10. We paid _____ the nose for a tiny apartment in New York City.

  11. Aunt Minnie was irritable, and everyone in the house had to walk _____ eggshells to avoid upsetting her.

  12. When I showed my boss the finished report, he was left with egg _____ his face.

  13. After his wild night on the town, Bud looked a little worse _____ wear.

  14. The clever country lawyer had another trick _____ his sleeve.

  15. Thomas had been left _____ the dark by his father about the true size of the family estate.

  16. It seemed I was back _____ square one, forced to reexamine everything I once thought I understood.

  17. Joan regarded her first boyfriend as a mistake that she wanted to brush _____ the carpet.

  18. Whenever Dorry was feeling down _____ the dumps, she reached for a carton of ice cream.

  19. It's not always easy to make decisions that go _____ the grain.

  20. You can count on two kinds of people in your life: those who support everything you do and those who only want to rain _____ your parade.
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