From my base in the Middle East, I work with many applicants throughout Asia who have excellent English but use a few phrases in ways that depart from the strictly correct. In this, my first blog post, I aim to help applicants improve their use of these phrases.
There are two words in particular that applicants frequently employ using an incorrect preposition: leverage and comprise. "Leverage" is most often used to indicate that you made use of one thing to obtain another. Most applicants understand what leverage is; the mistake only comes in how they phrase it. The correct way is without a preposition, for example: "I leveraged my knowledge of marketing to champion my idea throughout the department." Remember, you can leverage credibility, loyalty, and even debt, but the key is to do it alone, don’t use a preposition (like the frequent error "leverage on").
The other word that frequently trips up my clients is "comprise." Everyone knows this word, but for many people for whom English is a second language – even those who spent their entire lives studying in English in school — this term comes with another prepositional complication. "Comprised" can be used in two ways:
1) A team can be "comprised of" certain members, or
2) Certain members can "comprise" the team.
Every year many of my applicants mistakenly use the preposition "of" when it isn’t needed and drop it when it is necessary. So remember, when team members comprise a team, they do it alone – without a preposition. Feel free to write those two sample sentences out on a sticky note to put on your computer screen. These words come up all the time, especially in the plethora of leadership and teamwork MBA admission essays.
So when you want your essays, personal statements, and statements of purpose to present your skills, knowledge, and individuality well, remember: you don’t have to do it alone. Professional writers have editors for a reason. Contact an Accepted.com editor to guide you through these and other subtle English issues and make sure that your qualifications are not buried under prepositions!