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I have a question about the preposition to use with "threat":

  1. He made threats against her.
  2. He made threats at her.
  3. He made threats toward her.

Should it be "against", "at", or "toward"?

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Out of those three, I think it's the first one with 'against'. Because you are using 'make' there.

OALD gives us an example with it:

to make threats against somebody

A headline from CBS LA

Hacker Used Incarcerated Man’s Facebook To Make Threat Against Antelope Valley College

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    Also worth mentioning: He threatened her. – snailcar May 20 '15 at 4:59
  • There couuld be many such examples. But I think we are concerned with 'make threats' with 'make' in it. @snailboat – Maulik V May 20 '15 at 5:23
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All three are possible, and well-attested.

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Each can mean something different (though the distinctions below might not always be strictly observed) and is valid with to make a threat:

He made threats at her.

This implies that he was in the vincinity of her (he was "at" her). X at Y means X and Y are in the same place. So there's a chance this could mean something like he raised his fists and made a threatening gesture near her, but she may not have seen it because her back was turned.

He made threats toward her.

This means that he said or did something in her direction. It likely implies there was some distance between them and that the threat was not only verbal but may have involved a weapon or fists, etc.

Toward also might be used to express that A specifically targeted B out of a group.

He made threats against her.

The other two sentences imply that the two are physically near or can at least physically see each other, if neither of these are true, against will work. Also if the threat is something abstract or non-physical/verbal, against might be used. For example, He made a threat against her via email or The CEO resigned yesterday, which was a threat against the well-being of the company.

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