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In the following sentence, what is the correct preposition after enthusiastic? Or are they both correct?

  1. "...might present more difficulty to get enthusiastic and hopeful for religious and mystic issues".

  2. "...might present more difficulty to get enthusiastic and hopeful about religious and mystic issues".

  • 3
    About is by far the more common preposition used with the term enthusiastic: books.google.com/ngrams/… - Hopeful for/about : books.google.com/ngrams/… – user66974 Nov 28 '16 at 20:21
  • When I see "enthusiastic for" it generally refers to a future opportunity or chance, not a general concept. "He's enthusiastic for the upcoming election" – John Feltz Nov 28 '16 at 21:19
  • As your own search engine should confirm, the preposition normally used after “enthusiastic” is “about”; almost never "for". – Robbie Goodwin Aug 11 '18 at 21:15
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It seems to me that the headline question here—"What preposition is used after 'enthusiastic': 'for' or 'about'?"—differs fundamentally from the body text question, which appears to be "Which works better—'get enthusiastic and hopeful for' or 'get enthusiastic and hopeful about'?"

The obvious difference between the two questions is that the headline question asks whether to use for or about after the word enthusiastic, while the body text question asks about whether to use for or about after the phrase "enthusiastic and hopeful." Because readers are far more likely to run afoul of the headline question than of the body text question, my answer addresses the former.

In my view, uncertainty about whether to choose "enthusiastic for" or "enthusiastic about" is due to the influence of a separate pair of phrases—"enthusiasm for" and enthusiasm about." The problem is that "for" is the more common preposition in one of the phrase pairs and "about" is in the other.

Here is an Ngram chart tracking the relative frequency of the phrases "enthusiastic for" (blue line) versus "enthusiastic about" (red line) versus "enthusiasm for" (green line) versus "enthusiasm about" (yellow line) for the period 1800–2005:

Year in and year out for the past century, as the chart illustrates, "enthusiastic about" has been considerably more common in published writing than "enthusiastic for"; but during the same period, "enthusiasm for" has been vastly more common than "enthusiasm about." That is, idiomatically—and notwithstanding the seemingly contrary directions their preferences take—English writers (and presumably English speakers) show an overwhelming preference for "enthusiastic about" and "enthusiasm for."

So (removing "and hopeful" from the example sentence in order to focus on which preposition works best with enthusiastic/enthusiasm), we have two idiomatically favored pairings, either of which sounds perfectly natural:

...might present more difficulty to get[ting] enthusiastic about religious and mystic issues.

and

...might present more difficulty to feel[ing] enthusiasm for religious and mystic issues.

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As the question is asked, "about" would usually be preferable to "for" but that ignores other points.

"...might present" makes no difference but you need either: "might present more difficulty getting" or "might be more difficult to get"

Adjective enthusiastic describes one who exhibits enthusiasm.

Noun enthusiasm expresses enjoyment, interest, or approval.

Verb enthuse has two actions. Usually, the act of expressing enthusiasm; less often, making someone else enthusiastic.

An enthusiast shows enthusiasm for his passions.

An enthusiast is enthusiastic about her passions

He who enthuses, could be showing his enthusiasm for that about which he is enthusiastic.

She who enthuses could be inspiring others to show their enthusiasm.

Happy New Year

  • Oh, good grief. Who tried to drag that down and much more importantly, why? – Robbie Goodwin Dec 14 '16 at 0:42
  • Although I did not do that, however, before diverting your attention to other issues with the statement, had you shed more light on why you believe “about” should be preferred over “for”, I certainly would have up voted your response. – Irfan Jan 5 '17 at 10:00
  • Although I started frequenting the ELU thread to learn and participate, however, I do not have too many issues with the use of either enthusiastic or enthusiasm. When communicating your surprise at the down vote, you also expressed the desire to know that why would any one do it. I just provided you with the answer to your why from my perspective. The person who actually did it may have done it for entirely different reasons, but terseness of a response certainly can elicit such a response. Although I never wanted the information, nevertheless, thanks for taking the time. – Irfan Jan 6 '17 at 13:32
  • Uh… thanks, Disinterested. Is it better now that I've changed both the Answer and the Comment? – Robbie Goodwin Jan 6 '17 at 17:57
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The Oxford Collocation Dictionary says that your preposition should be either "about" or "in". Since "enthusiastic in" should refer to some action, and you're talking about the things (ideas - whatever), I suppose that "enthusiastic about" is your best and obvious choice.

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