work in / on /at metals

Shooting Stars

Senior Member
He instructed the people how to work in metals, and also taught them other valuable and useful arts. (Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome)

I was wondering why 'work in metals' is used rather than work at / on metals and what the differences are.

Thank you.
  • Barque

    Senior Member
    Since the context seems to be the use of metals, I'd probably say "work with metals".

    "Work at metals" could be used in a different context, I suppose but doesn't really fit here. "Work on metals" carries a slightly different connotation - to do some work on a piece of metal rather than to use it for some purpose - and wouldn't really fit here.

    If he'd said "work in metals", that would've sounded better - the use of metal in work.


    Senior Member
    British English
    "In" can be used when describing the relationship between a craftsman and the material he uses to to make things. A woodworker works in wood, a potter works in clay, a silversmith works in silver, a goldsmith works in gold.
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