When I typed 'I am writing to express my disappointment at your service.' in a letter of complaint, Grammarly - an AI-based grammar checker - corrected me as 'I am writing to express my disappointment in your service.'

However, I searched for exemplary sentences and the following ones are from OALD.

  1. Paul couldn't hide his disappointment at not being asked to the party.
  2. You can imagine my disappointment at finding all the plants damaged by caterpillars.

It's 'at' which is used in the examples above, moreover, their meanings are the same with mine.

In my sentence, which preposition should be used with 'disappointment' ?


1 Answer 1


Unfortunately, I have seen Grammarly make many mistakes on subtleties of English.

Both "disappointed in" and "disappointed at" are idiomatic in American English.

In general in American English, people tend to use "disappointed in" with reference to a specific person or group of people.

I am disappointed in his failure to get the job done on time.

Whereas, again in American English, people tend to use "disappointed at" with reference to a situation.

I was disappointed at not being able to join you.

  • 1
    The distinction I would draw is that when you say “disappointed in” (and “disappointed with”), you harbor some animus against or criticism of the agent responsible for the situation. When you are “disappointed at”, you understand that no one is at fault, you are just unhappy with the outcome. Zorg is disappointed in here and and at here. May 17, 2022 at 22:58
  • Nice comment. Our disagreement is slight, if indeed we have one. One cannot criticize the weather, for example. That is what I meant by a "situtation." No human can sensibly be blamed. But animus must be directed against something with a material intellect; I can hardly have animus against an earthworm. Moreover, "animus" is a strong word. I may be disappointed that my son forgot my birthday, but that does not mean I have animus against him. That is what I meant by "with reference to paerons." I am ascribing blame to someone. Do you think I need to clarify my answer? May 18, 2022 at 0:02

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