There is a curious linguistic trend I’ve observed. It concerns the preposition linked with the word “excited”.
Before we get too enthused, let me remind you that a preposition is a word which indicates a relationship in time or space between two elements of a sentence, clause or phrase. Nifty little words like at, on, into, amid, between, toward and beyond are prepositions that show us where or when a thing is in relation to a noun or pronoun.
What I have been bumping into lately is the phrase “excited for”, as in “I’m excited for this tasty breakfast” or “I’m excited for this exhibition of abstract art”.
To be excited for something means to be excited on behalf of it. I may, for instance, be excited for you right now because I know learning about prepositions is so useful and interesting to you. The important thing to note is that I am not excited for learning about prepositions. I am excited about it. You are too, right?
The exception (and of course there is one) is when “excited” functions as an adjective in a sentence and is followed by a prepositional phrase. This is what’s happening if I say “I was excited for an hour at least.”
Of course, about is not the only acceptable preposition to use with “excited”. You may also be excited by a given thing. I myself am excited by bright ideas, insightful writing and engaging conversations. And the adept selection of prepositions, it would seem.
A person might also be excited to do something. Excited to explore the world or to try new things. Excited to write with greater skill and dexterity. Likewise, people can be excited at something, although this use is generally reserved for ideas or concepts. Perhaps you are excited at the prospect of a holiday or the chance to get lost in a really good book?
Each of these options situates the elements of the sentence with subtle variations. It’s a case of ascertaining which preposition works best for your purpose. Once you delve into the implications of each one, you can begin to have fun.
Switching your prepositions can be as entertaining as mixing your metaphors and can have a similar stylistic effect. But it must be done knowingly. Don’t repeat a phrase like “excited for” merely because other people have said it. Instead, consider what you want to say then choose the words that enable you say it in the most meaningfully expressive way.
That’s how you get people excited about – and indeed by – your writing.
Do correctly selected prepositions excite you? What do you think of being excited for, to, by or about something?