good at / in?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by jpdeweerdt, May 30, 2006.

  1. jpdeweerdt Member

    French - Belgium

    When are we supposed to use "good in" or "good at"?

    I would say "I'm good at maths", but would "I'm good in maths" be correct?
    "I'm good at playing football" (in???)

    Many of my students use "in", because they translate it from French.

    What do you think? Thanks for your answers.

  2. coconutpalm

    coconutpalm Senior Member

    Shanghai, China
    I have been taught to always use "at". I'm curious about the answer from the natives!
  3. Natalya2006 Senior Member

    Well...I'm not sure which one is gramatically correct , but I would use any of the two ,
  4. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I would always use good at for any of the contexts you suggest.
    I would say good in in some other contexts - for example, the weather was very good in Bellagio last week, Billy was very good in the leading role in the school play - but that is quite a different meaning.

    Good at XXX = generally proficient, skilled, talented in the XXX sphere of endeavour.

    Good in XXX = specifically good in the particular circumstances described by XXX.

    Please forgive the indelicacy of the following example - or look away:eek:
    One may be good at sex but one is good in bed.
  5. jpdeweerdt Member

    French - Belgium
    Thanks Panjandrum,

    that's what I thought, but hearing in all the time, I finally got used to it...

    Now, as far as your beautiful example is concerned, I can't imagine using it with my students :(

    I have another similar question :

    I'm interested in mathematics is the standard sentence, but would you accept I'm interested by mathematics?
    I wouldn't, but I'm not native.
    <<The similar question has been given a thread of its own, called interested in/ by ...:) >>
  6. coconutpalm

    coconutpalm Senior Member

    Shanghai, China
    Panj, one maybe good at sex but one is good in bed. Are they equivalent? All about sex?
  7. river Senior Member

    U.S. English
    Yes. "At sex" and "in bed" mean the same thing.

    "Good at sex" = good at an activity.

    "Good in bed" - the "in" refers to an area (bed).
  8. french4beth

    french4beth Senior Member

    For 'good in' this is often followed by a school subject (for example, "I'm good in science"); 'good at' is more general and includes more general areas such as "I'm good at horseback riding" (but could also be followed by a subject).
    There are also some time expressions, for example, "A hot cup of tea is really good in the morning."
    There are also some food expressions, such as, "Some dill would be really good in this salmon recipe."
  9. jpdeweerdt Member

    French - Belgium
    Does that mean that my first question I'm good in maths is correct then? Panjadrum seemed to disagree.
  10. french4beth

    french4beth Senior Member

    I would say "I'm good in Math" if you were talking about a class or course, but if you mean mathematics in general, I would agree with Panjandrum & say "I'm good at math".
  11. moirag Senior Member

    English, England
    It´s "good at". "Good in bed" is another topic, I think! but, yes, it means the physical place, so it´s different.
  12. emma42 Senior Member

    North East USA
    British English
    There certainly seems to be a difference between BE and AE usage. If a child were to say to me "I am good in science" I would understand the child to mean that s/he was well-behaved in the science class. so, jpdeweertd, you need to decide if you want BE or AE usage and keep it consistent with the rest of what you teach. I would love to know which one you choose!
  13. jpdeweerdt Member

    French - Belgium
    I don't want to make politics, but I always choose the BE version when I can (we are in Europe!). But I accept the personal choices of my students. ;)

    Jean Paul

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