I posted a photo that was very serene. I wrote as my heading:

The serenity of this speaks to me.

But I don't know if that's correct. Should I have instead said:

The serenity in this speaks to me.

I can't stop it from ruminating in my head.

  • 1
    Dawn, why did you tag this fiction? It seems more like blog, websites, or social-media based on the question.
    – Cyn
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 3:03
  • I removed the tag and just used grammar. I'm on my phone and didn't know it actually posted that tag. I thought I removed it when I initially posted. My phone makes posting on here so complicated, I normay post on my computer.
    – Dawn Kelli
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 3:05
  • I understand. Is there another tag that might be helpful? I can add it for you if you like. One of the ones I suggested? Only if that's accurate.
    – Cyn
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 3:06
  • 1
    Yes social media or websites would be helpful too. And thank you for your help! I appreciate it :-D
    – Dawn Kelli
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 3:08
  • 3
    Either is correct but there's a subtle difference in what each means. However, questions on how to word something are off-topic, so I've voted to close this. I note someone has voted to close this question as "belongs on English Language & Usage", but that's the wrong choice: this question would be closed on that site as well, either for being off-topic due to lack of research, or for being primarily opinion-based. Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 5:48

3 Answers 3


The problem with the example sentence comes from the use of the pronoun, which makes it difficult to answer.

For example, I would say that each of the following two sentences uses the more common preposition for the subject it describes:

  1. The serenity of this lake (shown in the picture) speaks to me.
    → The serenity of this lake speaks to me.

  2. The serenity (shown by the lake) in this picture speaks to me.
    → The serenity in this picture speaks to me.

One is talking about the subject shown depicted within the picture, while the other is talking about the picture itself. The specific thing being discussed makes a difference to the preposition used.

But in the original sentence, the referent of this is missing.

The serenity of / in this (What?) speaks to me.

What we understand this to stand for will change the preposition that we would use to describe it.

As such, the sentence is ambiguous. All you need to do to make it clear is to add either lake (or whatever the actual subject of the picture is) or picture after this. If you do that, then the preposition to use should become clearer.

Of course, the entire issue could be bypassed if you posted the picture and simply added:

The serenity speaks to me.

That would alleviate the need to come up with a preposition at all—and any ambiguity between the picture itself and what it's showing wouldn't matter.


I feel like those sentences don't mean exactly the same thing. They ALMOST do, but there is a nuance - as if they are the same musical note in theory but are one octave apart.

When I read "serenity of this place", I think that the place has serenity, yes, but "serenity in this place" feels more momentary, like it may or may not feel as serene when visited at a later time.

But I am aware this is not a grammatical difference but a personal one - so if this doesn't help, please kindly disregard this message. To my knowledge, both work grammatically.


Serenity: The state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.

Serenity is a state of being. So we'd normally talk about the state of a place.

The serenity of this speaks to me.

"This" can refer to a place, a work (like a poem or painting), a thought process, etc.

But you can also refer to a state in a place (or work, etc). It doesn't work as well if you leave out what the "this" refers to, but it is still correct.

"Of" is a better choice but both are okay.

  • "This" was a photo of reading a book on a rainy day. The photo looked very serene, so I posted it to my book club on Facebook.
    – Dawn Kelli
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 3:12
  • @DawnKelli Ahh, context always helps. Fortunately, my answer is the same. I like "of" better but they're both correct.
    – Cyn
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 3:14

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