Consider the following examples :

  1. Would You be interested in buying a ticket

  2. Jerry is very good at playing drum

The first sentence uses 'in' before the gerund while the second one uses 'at'. Why would that happen, are there some patterns that we could use to apply 'in' and 'at' before the gerund. Is it wrong If I replace in with at on the second example?

  • It depends more on the adverb than the activity. Whilst interested takes in, good takes at. One could equally well say Would you be interested in playing drum; or Jerry is good at buying tickets.
    – WS2
    Nov 10, 2015 at 11:44
  • Thanks, so they are just the same? Nov 10, 2015 at 11:57
  • You have to look up a dictionary and it explains well. Each preposition has its own function. I would advise you to visit this site and post questions there.
    – user140086
    Nov 10, 2015 at 11:58
  • So you mean, 'good at', 'interested in' , they are a unit of word? Nov 10, 2015 at 12:02
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    @hansf. That is not to say that those words will not be followed by other prepositions. One might, for example say I would be interested to find out where he is. Or John is good for running errands. It means something slightly different if you say John is good at running errands. I am thinking you may find our sister site English Language Learners more suitable to your needs.
    – WS2
    Nov 10, 2015 at 12:07

1 Answer 1


Some adjectives select specific prepositions as complement.

"Interested" selects "in", and "good" selects "at".

Others like "amused", "hurt" and "distressed" select "by", while "adept", "hopeless" and "talented" for example also select "at".

Most often (for a given sense of the adjective) they are not interchangeable, so you can't say *"Would you be interested at buying a ticket", or *"Jerry is very good in playing drum".

I would suggest you buy one of the many books available that deal specifically with prepositions and their uses.

  • Though I agree with your answer, not many books discuss about specific pair of 'in, at, etc', only discussing about 'when you use prepositions with a verb, add -ing to the verb', something like that. And Thank You for your answer Nov 10, 2015 at 13:21

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