Practical Uses of The Preposition ‘By’

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The word ‘by’ is a very common word in English. Though it is mainly used as a preposition, it sometimes has uses as adverb also. In today’s lesson under the title ‘Mission English’, we discuss various practical uses of ‘by’ as a preposition :

Use 1 : To ‘show place or location’ :

First, we can use the word ‘By’ to ‘show place or location’. In this case, the structure is ‘by + place’ and it means ‘beside, at the side of, close to and next to’. Look at sentences below :

1. My office is just by the post office at Gulshan-2. (where is my office? It is ‘By the post office’ meaning ‘close to or beside the post office’).
2. Our office is by the river Buriganga. (close to or beside Buriganga).
3. I have a plan to buy ‘a house by the sea’ for my future living.

Use 2 : To ‘show means of transport’.

Again we can use ‘by’ to describe ‘methods of transport’. The structure is ‘by+ any mode of transport’ and it describes ‘how we travel somewhere’. See the sentences below :

1. I usually go to office by bus.
2. In Bangladesh, majority of people go to their village home by train to celebrate Eid on two biggest religious vocations.
3. My little daughter goes to her school by school van.
4. Majority of people in the city of Dhaka go to their workplaces by bus.
5. You can cross the Buriganga by boat alongside by bus.

Use 3 : To Show ‘Mode of Payment’.

Thirdly, it can be used to show ‘mode of payment’. The structure describes ‘how we make any payment’. Look at the examples below :

1. You can make the payment for mobile purchase by credit card.
2. Yesterday I bought an AC and paid for it by cheque.
3. Can I make the payment by Visa Credit Card for this purchase?
4. Payment by credit card is notably growing during the pandemic amid the fear of spreading the virus by paper notes.

But it should be noted that we use ‘in’, not ‘by’ for cash payments. See the sentences below :

1. I usually make the payment in cash for newspaper subscription.
2. You can make the payment cash for this purchase. (In spoken English, we can use just ‘cash’ without the preposition ‘in’).

Use 4 : To show ‘Deadline’.

The word ‘by’ is used to express ‘something needs to be done or happen’ by a certain time’. The structure is ‘by + time expressions or time word’ and it means ‘not later than, before or at a particular time.’ Look at the examples :

1. Guests must enter the venue by 7 p.m.
2. Every spectator should take entry into the venue by 11 a.m.
3. You must vacate the hotel room by 11 am in the morning.
4. The courier is urgent. I need it by tomorrow.
5. We are expected to arrive the dinner party hosted by US Ambassador by 7 p.m.

Use 5 : To express ‘doing something alone or without help’ : 

We can use it ‘to express to do something alone or without anyone’s help’. In this case, the structure is ‘by + reflexive pronouns’. Look at the sentences below :

1. I think you can do this math by yourself.
2. Can you solve this puzzle by yourself?
3. My son is just 5. But even at this tender age, it (he) can fully operate computer by itself (himself).

4. Aged at 78, my grandmother still roams around the village by herself.

Use 6 : To Express ‘Way of Communication’ :

The word ‘by’ is used to ‘describe how you communicate with someone’. Look at the sentences below :

1. I usually talk to my wife by phone. (How do I communicate with my wife? By phone).
2. We in general maintain communication with our foreign offices by mail.
3. Nowadays communication by social media has become popular among people of all age group.
4. Could you please confirm the order by mail?
5. Applicants must forward their applications by post.

Use 7 :  To Describe ‘How To Do Something’ :

In this case, the structure is ‘by + -ing verb and it provides information about ‘how to achieve a particular result’. See the following sentences :

1. You can increase the volume of the TV by pressing on the red button at the top.
2. One can start the laptop by pressing finger on the icon button at the middle left.
3. In case of emergency or fire, one can make alarm by pressing on the red button set on each exit door of the building.

Use 8 :  To Show ‘Past A Place’ (movement beyond a place)

In this case, the word ‘by’ is placed after motion related verbs such as walk, run, drive etc. to show ‘past a place or location’. In other word, this structure refers to ‘movement past a place’. Look at the sentences given below :

1. Yesterday I ran by the red line (ran beyond the line) and received signals from the guard while jogging on the campus owned by the military.
2. Yesterday you drove by my building. Am I right? (meaning you drove ahead beyond my building).
3. No one can move by the line (meaning movement beyond the line) as the construction work of metro rail is going on there.

Final Words : To note, the second part on other uses of the preposition ‘By’ will be followed soon. So keep browsing us! 

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