I would like to understand why do I need to use at with games?

For example,

He would be better at tennis if he practiced well.

Why I used at here and not in or on?


Why do good, better, best, bad, worse, and worst license a prepositional phrase headed by at?

The preposition at brings to the fore the sense of focusing one's energy and attentions, thereby casting its complement as something requiring such focus, an activity.

If a site manager asks a shift supervisor about a spill that needs to be cleaned up pronto, the supervisor might tell the manager:

We're hard at it.

meaning, we are devoting our energies and attentions to that activity now.

Tennis is being cast as an activity by the preposition at.


"Better" licenses a prepositional phrase headed by "at" as a complement.

  • Thank you so much for your help. However, I still do not understand why at fits better here than in or on. – Maryam Jan 9 at 7:32
  • @Maryam It's just that "better" requires a complement preceded by "at". There's nothing else to say. But you could say "It would be better in the house than in the classroom". In this case, "in the house" is an adjunct, not a complement. – user178049 Jan 9 at 7:37
  • @Maryam have you ever heard of someone being good at something? E.g. Frank is good at French. Better is the comparative – Mari-Lou A Jan 9 at 9:52
  • @Mari-LouA Thank you so much for your comment. I did not hear that before. But I am learning. – Maryam Jan 9 at 9:53

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