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I've been looking everywhere to see what's the right approach, and I can't find anything in english.stackexchange.com or other sites.

I have the following sentence:

Our customers love this feature, but we know it's not always that easy if you don't have previous experience of creating rating scales.

I'm wondering if the above is correct, or if this is correct instead:

Our customers love this feature, but we know it's not always that easy if you don't have previous experience in creating rating scales.

Notice the difference in the use of “of” vs. “in”.  Which one is the correct one in this sentence?

migrated from english.stackexchange.com Oct 19 '16 at 12:43

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  • I would actually prefer no preposition at all there. – Hellion Oct 18 '16 at 21:00
  • For me 'experience in' is used mainly when the experience is described using a noun while 'experience of' can be used when the description uses either a noun or a verb. For example "I have experience in Microsoft Word" can also be expressed as "I have experience of Microsoft Word" but "I have experience of using Microsoft Word" is very unlikely to be expressed as "I have experience in using Microsoft Word" – BoldBen Oct 18 '16 at 22:11
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    Another option: "experience with …." – Scott Oct 18 '16 at 22:22
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While you will not be misunderstood using either case, and I'm certain you will find plenty of examples of both in current language use. I'd suggest this distinction will always remain clear:


Use in when talking about experience meaning a skill level.

I have 10 years experience in Java, as a software engineer.

This tool should only be used by those with experience in astrozoology.

In these cases you are talking about experience as a quantity, and showing that you want to have a quantity of experience within a certain field/subject. You can also change "in" to "with" for the same meaning.


Use of when talking about an experience as an event.

I was underwater for 10 minutes, I thoroughly do not recommend the experience of drowning.

Skydiving is great - the experience of falling at 100mph is glorious.

In these cases you are describing an experience as an event, where "experience" could be replaced with "phenomenon" or "feeling". As such, you are giving more detail on what the exact feeling was by saying "the experience of falling" etc. Here, experience is not quantifiable, it is referring to the general idea of the event.

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I think both are grammatically correct and that if there is a right answer, it would be mainly context based. Use of "in" in this respect is slightly more informal and conversational and in my opinion sounds better. If this is directed at a wide audience I would use this.

Use of "of" doesn't flow as well in the sentence but in formal language might be a better choice.

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