As many of us know, domination simply means "power or control over other people or things" and mastery means "complete control of something". Also, if someone has a mastery of something, they are "extremely skilled at it."

Also, based on dictionaries;

Master means:

to learn to control an emotion or feeling.


Dominate means:

to have control over a place or person.

As you see, despite the fact that there is a considerable overlap between these two words, unfortunately I couldn't find any reliable and reasonable online resource to list them as a part of my research. I have made some examples which logically, each one of them can take both of the two words, but I wonder if you could let me know which word fits better and sounds more natural and idiomatic within each case and why?


  1. He is an expert in (his job / English) and has quite good experience in this field and I believe that he ................... (his job / English).

a. has mastery of
b. has domination on
c. masters
d. dominates

  1. This is a large land and there is only one person who is well familiar with this area and knows every single spot here. She ................. this area.

a. has mastery of
b. has domination on
c. masters
d. dominates

  1. The meeting was really breathtaking for all of us excepting David. He is a very intelligent man and as a person who knows what and how to say anything, he ............... the situation/meeting.

a. had mastery of
b. had domination on
c. mastered
d. dominated


3 Answers 3


There are some subtle differences between "mastery" and "domination".

"Domination" means power or control over other people or things.(Cambridge Dictionary).

"Mastery" means control or skill (Cambridge Dictionary). There do not need to be any other people or things. You can master, or achieve mastery of a skill without hurting someone else. You can master a task, or master a challenge when no one else is affected.

Cambridge Dictionary examples:

[Mastery as SKILL]

Examples as a Noun

Here are some other ways to use the concept of mastery, or being a "master".

  • Yes: He is a master of three languages.
  • Yes: He has mastery of three languages.
  • Yes: He has achieved mastery of three languages.
  • Yes: He is a master carpenter.
  • Yes: He is a master at carpentry.

Examples as a Verb

  • Yes: She mastered French while visiting her aunt Marie.
  • Yes: She mastered English. (This is fine because the work is *complete*.)

  • No: She masters French. (This is awkward. The “simple present tense” doesn’t really work for something that takes a long time to do and is being done intermittently.

(If she is in the process of becoming a master of French, we would say...)

  • Yes: She is mastering French. (She is a student of French and is becoming very proficient.)

  • Yes: “He is gaining mastery of carpentry through his job as a carpenter’s apprentice.”

  • Yes: She mastered the art of sculpture, despite her naysayers.

  • Yes: She mastered the sport of tennis. (These work very well because the action of learning is complete: it had a beginning, middle, and end.)

  • No: He masters three languages.

  • No: He masters his job.
  • No: He masters carpentry. (Again, don't use the simple present tense for a long-term project that is being done intermittently).

Don't use "mastered" for situations with other people or things:

  • No: She mastered the 2004 art competition.
  • No: She mastered the conversation with Professor Brown and Dr. White.
  • No: She mastered the tennis game against Williams. (These do not work because this is the wrong verb choice.)

  • Yes: She dominated the 2004 art competition.

  • Yes: She dominated the conversation with Professor Brown and Dr. White.
  • Yes: She dominated the tennis match against Williams.

An exception

The present tense is sometimes used to describe past events.(Discussion)

This occurs in jokes and stories:

  • "A man walks into a bar"

You can use "he masters xxx" (simple present tense) if you mean the complete action.

You could say something like

  • “In the 1850s, he travels to England, masters English, and paints his best masterpieces before returning to France.”

This use of the present tense to describe past events is a special case. It’s much more common to use the past tense:

  • "In the 1850s, she traveled to France, mastered French, and painted her best portraits before returning to Spain."

In this case, “he masters English" makes sense because you’re referring to the complete task — beginning, middle, and end — all within the context of “in the 1850s”.


"Mastery" has as its root, "master" -- a professional craftsman who knows his trade well enough to own a business, with employees who work for him and learn from him. The employees might be journeymen, other freemen, his children, and/or indentured apprentices. As whiskeychief points out, it is used in contexts where a person's learned skills are being praised.

"Domination" has as its root "domain" or "dominion" -- a region controlled by a ruler, whose rule is backed by military force. It is used in contexts where someone overpowers someone else, and is held in awe. For example, a country that controls a part of the world, or an athlete who almost always wins his individual matchups, or a team that wins matches by large margins.

In the original posts' examples:

  • "Has domination on" is not idiomatic English. "Dominates" is always better than "has domination on".

  • In the first example, "has mastery of" is most appropriate.

  • The second example emphasizes "familiarity" instead of "rulership", so "has mastery of" is more appropriate than "dominates".

  • In the third example, either "had mastery of", "mastered", or "dominated" could be appropriate, depending on what connotations the author intended. If "David" figured out how to control the meeting during the meeting, he "mastered" it. If his forceful presence was the most memorable thing about he meeting, then he "dominated" it. If he used more subtle methods to get the results he wanted, he "had mastery of" it.


As I see, there is a no overlap between these words as they are very different. Mastery is a noun and Dominate is a verb. After taking a simplistic view of the dictionary definitions, You are trying to use the two in the same way, which you cannot.

noun enter link description here noun [ C ] UK ​ /naʊn/ US ​ /naʊn/ ​ a word that refers to a person, place, thing, event, substance, or quality:

verb https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/verb it noun [ C ] UK ​ /vɜːb/ US ​ /vɝːb/ ​ a word or phrase that describes an action, condition, or experience:

  • FYI, I had not at all used the two absolutely different parts of speech in the same way @Brad while I made four quite different variants for each case. Two choices are combimations of [an auxiliary + the respective noun] and the other two are verbs.
    – A-friend
    Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 17:17
  • @A-friend; Not quite sure where your going here if you want me to delete my answer because it's not what you want just tell me. No problem.
    – Brad
    Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 17:56

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