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as in "I pride myself on my ability to speak Klingon and Romulan in the appropriate accents."

Which is the correct preposition for the end of that expression?

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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

[Edited] The Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.) gives on pride (v.):

4.a. refl. To make or show oneself proud; to take pride, take credit to oneself, congratulate oneself; to plume oneself. Const[ructed with] on, upon, in (†for, of, about, with), that. Here are the examples it quotes - I left out the ones from before 1600:

1674 Boyle Excell. Theol. ii. ii. 138 The variety of inventions ... make us pride ourselves about things, that [etc.].

1691 tr. Emilianne's Frauds Rom. Monks (ed. 3) 361, I know ... Reason, why the Priests should pride themselves with this.

1756–7 tr. Keysler's Trav. (1760) III. 108 At Mantua, where they pride themselves not a little on account of their city being the birthplace of that great poet.

1806 Med. Jrnl. XV. 437, I prided myself that my hands had never been guilty of communicating that disease.

1807–8 W. Irving Salmag. (1824) 35 We pride ourselves upon giving satisfaction in every department of our paper.

a1849 H. Coleridge Ess. (1851) II. 146 The impotence of that which some women pride themselves in.

1850 D. M. Craik Olive I. v. 71 How Elspie then prided herself for the continual tutoring which had made the image ... an image of love.

1882 A. W. Ward Dickens iv. 91 He prided himself on his punctuality.

I only just consulted the 3rd edition, which presents a different picture:

3.a. trans. (refl.). Originally: †to show oneself proud, plume oneself (obs.). Later: to take pride in or congratulate oneself (for some achievement, ability, etc.). Now chiefly with on, that.

It has three new quotes as well:

1910 ‘H. H. Richardson’ Getting of Wisdom (1982) iv. 35 If there was one thing‥all of them prided themselves on, it was the good manners that had been instilled into them since their infancy.

1953 H. Clevely Public Enemy vi. 32 He prided himself that his voice sounded quite ordinary; he was giving nothing away.

1992 H. N. Schwarzkopf It doesn't take Hero p. x, For the entire first part of my career, I prided myself on being unflappable even in the most chaotic of circumstances.

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Could you give us some examples? The sources I find all say it can be "pride himself on/upon" but not "in" or "that+clause" unless "pride" is being used as a noun and not a verb. Would it be correct to say "He prides himself in his honesty" or "He takes pride in his honesty" (which is a different kind of usage). The "that+clause" would make it "He prides himself that he is always honest" which seems incorrect. –  Tragicomic Dec 29 '10 at 8:54
    
Done! On second thought, I am not sure whether the dagger points at all the prepositions within the brackets, or only at "for". // Incidentally, my intuition is not clear about "he prided himself in x" (it inclines towards correct but is not sure, because "on" is certainly more common"), but it does tell me that "he took pride in x" is correct. It feels funny about the that-clause, as yours does. –  Cerberus Dec 29 '10 at 15:08
    
Added info from the 3rd edition. –  Cerberus Dec 30 '10 at 16:48
    
+1 and thanks for all the examples and research. –  Tragicomic Jan 10 '11 at 13:22
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I can't find any usage guides that specifically mention this. However, Google shows the following patterns:

  • "pride myself on" - 1,260,000 hits
  • "pride myself in" - 518,000 hits
  • "pride myself with" - 94,000 hits
  • "pride myself at" - 25,000 hits

So both "pride myself on" and "pride myself in" are well-attested, though "pride myself on" is the clear winner. The other options are an order of magnitude rarer, and probably indicate mistakes.

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Another common construction is "I take pride in myself for my ability to XXX" –  John Satta Dec 28 '10 at 23:09
    
in response to the original answer, even though more people (more goog results) may use a certain grammar construction, that doesn't mean its any more correct. Although, there was a thread earlier on discussing the accuracy of grammar -- whether it had to do with the size of the population using the grammar pattern or the "defined" pattern.:) –  kalaracey Dec 29 '10 at 17:35
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The one example I see in the Merriam-Webster definition of pride refers to "on":

I pride myself on [being or doing] something

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