I wrote 'My educational background is on classical music' and Grammarly suggested correcting it into 'My educational background is in classical music'. I looked up examples on Cambridge Dictionary online and Oxford Learner's Dictionary online. Depending on these exemplary sentences which are not directly about 'educational background', 'background on sth' is correct. But Grammarly suggests 'in' so I'm not sure which one is correct.

An example from OALD

Our reporter can now provide more background on this story.

An example from Cambridge Dictionary

Can you give me some background on (= information about the conditions that existed before) the situation?

  • 1
    Reminds me of one person from Mexico telling me, when he was learning English, he finally got the difference: you say in when you go inside something, on when you go on top of it. Then, as he waited in the airport to go home, the loudspeaker said it was time for all passengers to go on the airplane.
    – Davislor
    Commented Aug 7, 2022 at 19:52
  • 1
    Or, in other words, prepositions can be completely arbitrary sometimes.
    – Davislor
    Commented Aug 7, 2022 at 19:52

2 Answers 2


There are two different meanings of "background" here, and they have different prepositions associated with them.

Merriam-Webster defines them:

3 b (2) : information essential to understanding of a problem or situation
// background information
3 c : the total of a person's experience, knowledge, and education
// comparing the candidates' backgrounds

With the "information" meaning, we use "on". With the "personal experience" meaning, we use "in".


My educational background is in classical music (personal background)
Our reporter can now provide more background on this story. (background information)


When you're referring to a particular field or profession and background comes first, use in:

This job requires a background in mathematics and computer science.

My background is in engineering.

You don't need anything when background comes after:

This job requires a mathematics and computer science background.

I have an engineering background.

When the background refers to a person or situation, use on:

I don't have any background on him.

I don't have the background on his prior employment.

I don't have background on the uprising in Sri Lanka.

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