Tricky Prepositions. Part 2

Tricky Prepositions. Part 2

What’s the difference between caring for something and caring about something, doing somethings on time and in time, on the weekend and at the weekend? If you ever ask yourself these questions, read on…


If you care about something, you feel that it is important and you are concerned about it. If you care about someone, you are interested in that person and you want them to be well and happy:

All he cares about is his money and his career. (= His money and career are the most important to him.)

All I care about is your happiness. (= Your happiness is all I concern myself with.)

Someone I care about might get hurt. (= Someone dear to me might get hurt.)

You care about what happens to me. (= What happens to me is what you are concerned about.)

So, singing “They don’t really care about us,” Michael Jackson means that they are not really interested in us:

The lyrics are here.

If you care for someone or something, you look after them and keep them in a good state or condition:

They hired a nurse to care for her. (= They hired a nurse who would tend her.)

She made him feel special and cared for. (= She made him feel special and loved (in a way that is based on friendship).)

These cars are lovingly cared for by private owners. (= Private owners treat these cars carefully so that they stay in good condition.)

Teach your children how to care for their pets. (= Teach your children to do the necessary things for their pets that need help and protection.)

So, you can care about someone and care for them at the same time: 1) I deeply care about my cousin, that’s why I care for her now that she is sick and helpless.

To care about someone and to care for someone can mean the same thing: 1) Someone I care about/for might get hurt. 2) She made him feel special and cared for/about. These 2 sentences are both about feeling a lot of affection for someone. In this case, both for and about can be used.

To take care of something/someone = to care for something/someone (= to do the necessary things for someone who needs help or protection; to treat something carefully so that it stays in good condition:

All the neighbors take very good care of their gardens. (= All the neighbors look after their gardens very well.)

Who will take care of the children? (= Who will provide for the children and protect them against trouble?)

Teach your children how to take care of their pets.

They hired a nurse to take care of her.

But to take care of something/somebody has an additional meaning – to do what is necessary to deal with a person or situation:

I’ll take care of the menu. (= I’ll handle the problem/issue of the menu.)

Can you take care of this customer, please? (= Can you deal with this customer, please?)


If you are on time, you are not late, you do something at the expected or scheduled time:

He always arrives on time (= not early and not late).

Thank you for being right on time despite being so busy.

This solution was completed on time and within budgets.

The train was on time.

If something happens in time, it happens early enough:

I arrived just in time for my flight to London.

She set the alarm so she’d wake up in time to give her two sons their medication.

I want to be home in time for tea.

If we leave now, we’ll be at the station in plenty of time. (= We’ll be at the station in good time.)


At the weekend (British English) = on the weekend (American English):

What are you doing at/on the weekend?

We’re going to Cape Town on/at the weekend.

My brother likes to wash his car on/at the weekend.

Sorry to bother you on/at the weekend.

On/at weekends = on/at the weekends (don’t forget about the regional differences):

What do you usually do at/on (the) weekends?

I go sailing on/at (the) weekends.

Note that “over the weekend” means “during the weekend”:

The office is closed over the weekend.

I had business in Vegas over the weekend.

The meaning of “on/at (the) weekend” is similar to the meaning of “over the weekend,” although it is not used quite as often. The two expressions are usually interchangeable and choosing one or the other is mostly a matter of personal preference. (source)

Do you care about other tricky prepositional phrases? 😉 Check out “Tricky Prepositions” and read about prepositions (and articles) often used with “school,” “hospital,” “university” and “college.”

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