She doesn't have any experience loving someone.

She doesn't have any experience with loving someone.

She doesn't have any experience in loving someone.

Are all the above sentences grammatically correct? What's the difference in their meaning? Is it necessary to use a preposition after the word "Experience" .

  • 2
    When in doubt, leave it out (if it makes sense that way). "She doesn't have any experience loving someone." is fine.
    – user3169
    Mar 26, 2016 at 19:33
  • If you had to use one of the sentences given above, which one would you choose? Mar 26, 2016 at 20:09
  • The first one..
    – user3169
    Mar 26, 2016 at 20:13
  • According to NGram, there is a significant difference in usage of "have experience X" where X is a preposition, between BrE (of >> in > with) and Ame (in > with >> of). For "have experience x love", it's of >> in > with for both BrE and AmE. The numbers for this query are very low, though, and zero for "have experience x loving".
    – JavaLatte
    Mar 26, 2016 at 20:40

1 Answer 1


I think to answer this question, we need to distinguish between two different senses of experience. I quote from LDOCE:

  1. [U] knowledge or skill that you gain from doing a job or activity, or the process of doing this. It's about knowledge or skills

In this sense we can use of/in/with after experience to make noun phrases or gerund as in

You’ve got a lot of experience of lecturing.

my experience in many areas of the music business

in is often followed by a gerund. However noun phrases are also possible. 'Experience in' implies the person has been (professionally) trained in something (a special field of activity) as in

We need someone who has experience in ​marketing and ​teaching,

and after 'of', we mainly use gerund unless the word 'experience' is preceded by get/gain as in

The programme enables pupils to gain some experience of the world of work.

And afer with we tend to use noun phrases (persons/animals) and it implies that the knowledge has been gained about something by actual physical contact as in

I have experience with children.

Let's say this is said by a sister who raised his brother while his mom was always away working.

  1. [C] something that happens to you or something you do, especially when this has an effect on what you feel or think. It's about what happens.

In this sense we use of/with/for (Not in) after experience to make noun phrases as in

This was my first experience of living with other people.

In this sense, I think you can use both with and of interchangeably to make the same meaning as in

It was her first experience of/with dealing with people from another culture.

I assume you try to refer to loving someone simply as an event, or type of event, lived through which does not have the idea of gained knowledge. So, I think sentence two is the safest choice here. About number one (experience doing something) I found no reference to back it up so I think it's better to be avoided at least when formality matters. Many think of it as acceptable though as in

She has a great deal of experience (in) introducing new products to international markets.

  • I would take out the preposition in most of the examples above. "Experience in designing widgets" can (and should) be shortened to "experience designing widgets". Jul 22, 2019 at 16:02
  • I can see no compelling reason to drop the 'in', Eric. Apr 30, 2023 at 18:31

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