10

Can anybody help me by explaining the difference between the usage of "good at" and "good in"?

13

(AmE) Chocolate is good in cake. Sarcasm can be good in the proper context. That actor was good in his last movie. Wine is good in moderation. She's good in bed. What's good in this restaurant? Was there some good in these examples?

"good at" however, means adept at performing a particular activity, whether physical or academic. She's good at math, but he's good at sports. I think I'm good at English grammar. I know I'm good at solving crossword puzzles. I hope I was good at explaining to you.

  • 1
    In UK English, they say I'm good in maths... for example. – Catija Feb 16 '15 at 3:34
  • I should have been more clear. I didn't mean you couldn't use "in" in those latter cases, but rather that one wouldn't use "at" in my first set of examples. Would British say "she's good at bed?" I suppose you'd have a dozen livelier idioms. – Brian Hitchcock Feb 16 '15 at 7:31
  • 4
    I'm British and I wouldn't say I'm good in maths. I'd say I'm good at maths. Unless I was referring to my behaviour in the classroom during maths lessons. "I'm good in maths, but I like to raise hell in geography." – ssav Feb 16 '15 at 12:10
  • @Catija Agree, at least that's what I learned in my grammar books. – Sнаđошƒаӽ Apr 7 '16 at 8:35
  • books.google.com/ngrams/… – Khan Mar 4 '17 at 2:15
5

Generally, someone is good at doing something. On the other hand, someone is [simply] good in something. However, depending on which dialect you are speaking in, it depends.

For instance,

She's good at fooling people -at, following procedure/act

But then...

...hiring candidates good in programming -simply, she's good in coding.

COCA does show 23 results of the phrase "good in math".

However, it's worth noting that good at something is NOT utterly incorrect. In fact, I think it's commoner.

Some people just born good at math - Huffington Post

And...

Thinking you are good at math - News from the Ohio State University

  • 1
    It might be correct to say someone can be good in some category as opposed to a specific skill. But for many of those categories you can still use "at". " I think it's commoner. " It's actually more common to use "more common" than "commoner" partially because "commoner" also means "not a noble/royal" – eques Nov 15 '16 at 18:25
2

I think this ngram will help dissolve the matter, at least slightly if not completely.

ngram

What I can conclude from this (the wise can extract more significant meanings!)

  • Good at doing..., good at eating..., etc. are commoner than good in doing..., good in eating... etc. (The -ing forms used in these examples are actually used as verbs, see ngram)

  • Good in maths, good in singing, etc. were commoner than good at maths, good at singing, etc. though the difference in their usage has diminished. (The -ing form used in these examples is actually used as noun, see ngram)

P.S.: to know what those double underscores mean, like in _NOUN_, take a look at the ngram info.

  • I assume we're all trying to model good English in our answers when I suggest that you use 'more common' instead of 'commoner'. I've always considered 'commoner' to be incorrect usage. – dwilli Jun 5 '18 at 17:46
  • @dwilli yeah, I did some searching and it seems 'more common' as a comparative for 'common' is more common than 'commoner'. :) And that 'commoner' is most commonly used to mean 'someone born of not some loyal rank'. – Sнаđошƒаӽ Jun 17 '18 at 5:13
0

It should be you are good At, but weak In doing something.

-4

Good "in" used when the phrase is followed by verb, whereas Good 'at' is used when the phrase is followed by a noun.

E.g. - A person is good in writing poems A person is good at poetry.

  • "good at writing poems" is also idiomatic and more common than either. – Nathan Tuggy Nov 15 '16 at 18:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.