Is it possible to say that interests "overlap?" If it is, what is the difference between "overlapping interests" and "matching interests?"

Consider following examples:

My interests are matching in particular the research of Mr. X

My interests are overlapping in particular with the research of Mr. X

Which would be the better, more clear version?


It is possible to say that interests overlap, but I wouldn't interpret them the same way.

John and I have matching interests.

If you said this, I would interpret it to mean that you and John share most, if not all, of the same interests. Your interests match – they are the same. See this definition (from Oxford Dictionaries):


1 Correspond or cause to correspond in some essential respect; make or be harmonious:
[with object] "I thought we'd have primrose walls to match the bath"
[no object] "the jacket and trousers do not match"

John and I have overlapping interests.

I would interpret this to mean that you and John share some interests, but not all and probably not even a significant portion of interests. This is consistent with the dictionary definition:


1 Extend over so as to cover partly:
"the canopy overlaps the house roof at one end"
[no object] "the curtains overlap at the centre when closed"

1.1 [no object] Cover part of the same area of interest, responsiblity, etc.:
"the union's committments overlapped with those of NATO"

Your examples sentences, I think, would be better if the order were reversed (and rephrased to use the simple present rather than continuous):

The research of Mr. X matches my interests.

The research of Mr. X overlaps with my interests.

You could also say "Mr. X's research..." but that would be down to writing style.

When to match is used in the present continuous (is/are matching), it sounds like the following definition is being used instead of your intended definition:


1.1 [with object] Put (someone or something) together with someone or something else appropriate or harmonious:
"she was trying to match the draperies to the couch"

Use of the continuous of to overlap just doesn't sound right in this context, although I can't provide further explanation as to why.

|improve this answer|||||
  • Great answer. Thanks a lot. I guess I will go with "My interests are matching in particular the research of.." – Michael Dec 13 '16 at 12:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.