Most Common English Words (no. 24)

By” like other prepositions, has several usages. First, it used to show the person or thing that does something. When used this way, it is usually used with a passive verb (was + p.p).

  • I’m reading a book written by Neil Gaiman.
  • The ball was caught by the dog.

By” is also used to show how something is done.

  • I went to Kyoto by train.
  • He learned English by watching a lot of Hollywood TV shows at home.

By” can also be used to show the position of something or someone. It means “near” or “at the side of”.

  • ​Their summer house is by the beach.
  • The young child stayed by her mother’s side.

Finally, “by” can also be used to mean “not later than” or “before”.

  • We have to get to the airport by five o’clock.
  • By the time I arrived at the platform, the train had left.