(1) The children were excited about opening their presents.
(2) I'm really excited at the prospect of working abroad.
(Both are from OALD)

The adjective, excited, has different complements, about and at complements. Can these be interchangeable, without nuance change?
Interestingly, OALD’s Korean version has slightly different interpretations because of the two propositions: (about -> 느라; at -> 에)
(1) The children were excited by going through the activity of opening their presents.(느라)
(2) I’m very excited is caused by the prospect of working abroad.()
What’s the difference between the two complemtns?

1 Answer 1


The phrases that can follow "about" and "at" when used with "excited" (in the sense of eagerly looking forward to something) are different. The object of "about" can be a gerund or a noun, whereas "at" cannot take a gerund there, only a noun.

I'm excited about seeing friends over the holiday.

I'm excited at the thought of seeing friends over the holiday.

*I'm excited at seeing friends over the holiday. [ungrammatical]

A person can be "good at snowboarding", but not "excited at snowboarding".

  • ‘Excited at’ couldn’t take gerunds seems not to be matched with COCA’s examples: “People are excited at having you back”, “He was excited at being a recording artist”, “At one point, Jerry, excited at having his monotonous evening livened up a little, dashed toward Linda.”, “excited at getting to play at being bigshots for the day”, “Excited at being with Steve”, “excited at his selling fantasies”
    – Listenever
    Nov 14, 2014 at 15:09
  • 1
    I would not use "at" in those situations, but would follow the example you cited in the question, "excited at the prospect of working ..."
    – TimR
    Nov 14, 2014 at 15:15
  • Or "excited to have", "excited to be", "excited to get". I see more than a few examples of "excited at seeing", for example, but they sound "off" to my ear.
    – TimR
    Nov 14, 2014 at 15:28
  • 2
    ngram shows a significant disparity between (excited to _VERB_),(excited at _VERB_) for English 1900-2000; and the disparity is significantly greater with American English than with British English, though both greatly favor "excited to {verb}".
    – TimR
    Nov 14, 2014 at 16:05
  • 1
    COCA shows the same huge disparity in the preference for "excited to {verb}" versus "excited at {verb}". Search: excited at *.[v] versus excited to *.[v]
    – TimR
    Nov 14, 2014 at 22:39

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .