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Prepositions: "By" (#2), by Dennis Oliver

Prepositions #11:
Using By (#2)


We have seen that the many uses of the preposition
by include the place meanings of "beside" or "at the
side of," "past," and (with a personal pronoun)
"handy" or "in an easy-to-reach place." We have
also seen that by can show the time meaning "not
later than" and, with a reflexive ("self") pronoun,
the special meaning "alone" or "without help."

There are also other meanings / uses for by.

By is also common when someone is talking or
writing about transportation. In this situation,
by + a singular countable noun (or, in a few
cases, by + a noncountable noun) shows the
manner of transportation--how someone or
something moves from one place to another:

Ghassan goes to school by car.

Eleni plans to travel to Canada by train.

Carlo doesn't like to go anywhere by bus.

Nowadays, you can reach almost any location
by air.

You cannot travel to Hawai'i by land.

Travel by sea was much more common in
the past than it is today.


By is also used to show the method of
doing something:

He paid for dinner by credit card.

Do you normally pay your bills by check?

Admission to the reception is by invitation only.

Today, more and more people keep in touch
by fax or e-mail, but for formal, important
situations, communication by letter is usually
considered more appropriate.


Special Notes:


For transportation, the idiom on foot
is commonly used:

No, I didn't go there by taxi.
I went on foot.


For manner or method of payment,
the idiom in cash is also common:

No, I didn't pay by check or credit card.
I paid in cash.

(In may also be omitted: I paid cash.)


By + a gerund (-ing verb) is another
common way to show method:

He paid for dinner by using his credit card.

She learned English by watching TV.

Sara keeps in touch with her family
by sending e-mail.

Dmitri showed that he was joking
by winking.

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