I have question about the usage of "in".

According to definition 22 of this dictionary for "in" , "in" could be used like these sentences:

  1. You have a very good friend in Pat.
  2. In Dwight D. Eisenhower the Republicans had found the ideal candidate.

So, this sense of "in" should be, according to the dictionary then, used with "have" or "find". But then, I found this news article:

Still, Mr. Maliki’s support of the Kurds came after weeks in which the two militaries kept an uneasy distance from each other, even as Western officials, arguing that they faced a common enemy in ISIS, urged cooperation.

The verb "face" is neither "have" or "find". So, is the usage in news article wrong?

EDIT: After some discussion with some forum members, it was pointed out that the following:

  1. You have a very good friend in Pat.
  2. The scene awoke a warrior in John.

use two different definitions of "in". Why is that?

3 Answers 3


There's nothing in that definition #22 that requires "have" or "find"--those are just examples. The quoted article is using the word the same way, and is quite correct.


You misunderstand Definition 22 of the word in in Longman's.

The definition does not imply that only have and find can take the preposition in in this sense. It uses those two verbs only to demonstrate the way in which in relates to the verb. Other examples of such usage might be:

In Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton named a capable candidate for VP.
Julia Child created a classic in her boeuf bourguignon.

  • So, I could write something like: "The scene awoke the warrior in him"?
    – meatie
    Jul 23, 2016 at 3:15
  • @meatie It's not the same usage as in Definition 22, but that sentence is grammatically correct. "The scene awoke the warrior in him" is an example of the usage described in Definition 23 from Longman's. Jul 23, 2016 at 4:30
  • Why do "awoke the warrior in him" and "have a friend in him" use different definitions of "in"?
    – meatie
    Jul 23, 2016 at 5:50
  • @meatie It's not "have a friend in him." It's "Have a friend in Pat." Def. 22 has .."used before the name of someone or something when you are saying how they are regarded." Def. 23 has .. "used to say what person or thing has the quality you are mentioning." But it's a difficult call either way. The most important thing for you to understand is that there are many verbs that take in in this way. Jul 23, 2016 at 6:52
  • I added a sub-question to my original post. Would you kindly offer some comments to that ? Thanks!
    – meatie
    Jul 23, 2016 at 16:35

Perhaps if you switch the sentence around it would seem more understandable?

In Pat, you have a very good friend.

Having written it this way, it's easier to illustrate the usage of in.

How they are regarded, inside; internally.

So this usage is to express how someone is regarded, just as the definition 22 says. It's a bit metaphorical, because you're not literally saying that there is something tangible inside Pat.

Consider these other examples

Cameron has a talent in instruments.

Peter has a job in education

Alf has a vice in cats.

John has problems in math

Notice that I didn't say math class. I used math as a noun. You can't literally put something inside math, but you can certainly have a belief in math.

Switch it around.

In Math, John has problems.

Hope this helps.

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