Is there any difference between "common interests" and "interests in common"? One can certainly ask:

"Do you have any interests in common?"

Can you also ask:

"Do you, guys, have any common interests?"

meaning exactly the same and if yes, do they both sound natural?


1 Answer 1


Common by itself can mean either prevalent[Oxford, sense 1] or shared[Oxford, sense 2].

  1. Occurring, found, or done often; prevalent:

    • salt and pepper are the two most common seasonings
  2. Shared by, coming from, or done by two or more people, groups, or things:

    • the two republics' common border

However, in expressions like interests in common or interests common to them, the meaning is restricted to shared. To avoid ambiguity, it is a good practice to phrase your sentences like this if you wish to imply the second meaning.

So, the second sentence is talking about shared interests. The first is likely too, but not necessarily. It could be interpreted to mean common, boring, pedestrian interests.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.