I understand that the intransitive use of the verb "focus " is often followed by the preposition "on," but is it OK to say "focus at" instead of "focus on?" If not, why? Below is one of the definitions of the verb I found in my dictionary.

to direct your attention or effort at something specific.

  • It is possible. But I have seen it mainly with "on" as a verb. As for using "at" I have seen it more with the noun form. Prepositions usage usually doesn't have any special reason. So answering your "why" question is difficult.
    – user33000
    May 27, 2016 at 11:52
  • In general, people just don't say "focus at". So I would say "Don't say focus at, because you'll sound weird."
    – stangdon
    May 27, 2016 at 14:15
  • Your question cannot be answered without some examples.
    – user3169
    May 27, 2016 at 18:24

1 Answer 1


To focus on something is a collocation, like to direct at something; although the former is the only one possible (according to the Oxford Collocation dictionary, at least), whereas the verb to direct may collocate with different prepositions (at, into, to, toward(s), and a few others).

Why? Because it's a set phrase, like to look forward to, to be afraid of, to be angry with and so on.

To deside whether to focus may be used with "at" is impossible without a context

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