The adjective GOOD can be used with different prepositions. Good AT is usually followed by a verb. “He’s good AT drawing.” Good IN is less common but it can be used with school subjects. “He’s good IN Math.” Good WITH is followed by a noun. “He’s good WITH numbers.”
Good At or Good In or Good With? Your complete guide!
When the adjective “GOOD” is used with the prepositions at, in, and with it shows a high level of skill. How these prepositions are used can be a little bit confusing. This blog post will be your guide to using these words correctly when you communicate in English.
Remember that the word GOOD is an adjective. Adjectives follow a form of the verb to be.
Be GOOD AT something.
Good – adjective
1. of high quality or an acceptable standard
2. pleasant; that you enjoy or want
The adjective phrase GOOD AT means: skilled, able, gifted, talented etc.
– Synonyms from dictionary.cambridge.org
Good at is most often followed by a verb. The verb will be in its gerund form. (verb +ing)
- Greg is good at fixing cars.
Fixing is the gerund form of the verb to fix. Cars is the plural form of the countable noun car.
AT is a common English preposition with many uses. It is often used with adjectives to show how well somebody does something.
- Kelley is good at drawing. She drew a picture of our teacher that looked very real.
- My dad is good at playing the piano.
|My older sister is really good at painting. She will have an art show this summer to display all her amazing work.|
At is used with negative adjectives too.
- I’m terrible at cooking.
You may have also heard examples like this.
- My cousin is really good at soccer. He has been playing since he was 4 years old.
This is the same as saying:
- My cousin is really good at playing soccer.
|My cousin has been good at soccer for as long as I can remember.|
When we say good at a sport or good at a subject, the gerund form of the verb is understood. We don’t need to include it.
- I’m good at baseball. I can play any position on the field. = I’m good at playing baseball.
- My brother was good at many sports in high school. He played rugby, basketball, and softball.
- Victor is good at math. He always gets an ‘A’ in math class.
Good AT FAQ – Frequently Asked Question
Can I say My Dad is good at the piano?
The pattern [Someone is good AT a musical instrument] is not common.
- My Dad is good at playing the piano. – Better
- My Dad is a good piano player. – Best・This is the most natural way to say this.
- I was a
greattrumpet player in high school.
- I was a
goodtrumpet player in high school.
- I was an average trumpet player in high school. OK
|I also enjoyed playing the saxophone, even though I wasn’t very good at it.|
We can understand that the pronoun it is replacing the subject from the first clause of the sentence. It means “playing the saxophone.”
GOOD AT – 5 Common example sentences
- My student is an engineer. He always helps me when I have trouble with my laptop. He’s good at fixing computers.
- A: The brakes on my bicycle don’t work well.
B: Let’s ask my Dad to look at it. He’s good at fixing things.
My Dad is good at fixing things is a general statement that means my Dad can fix many things. He is handy.
Handy is an adjective that means: able to use your hands or tools to make or repair things well
Handy @ Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries
- My Japanese teacher was very good at explaining new grammar. She always made it easy to understand using natural example sentences.
- My friend Jerry is really good at reading people. He has a gift for it.
In general, reading someone means looking at them and knowing something about them without them saying anything at all. It’s a feeling you get from looking at them and observing the way they stand, the way they look around, the way they move. SOURCE
- If I ever have some trouble at work I always talk with Nathan, he’s really good at problem-solving. I can always count on his advice and support.
- University can be scary sometimes. For many students, it’s their first time living away from home. My university had great counselors, they were good at making the students feel more comfortable at school.
- My Grandma is good at making cookies. I always loved to visit her when I was a child.
|My grandmother was good at baking many different kinds of cookies, gingerbread men were my favorite.|
- Every time I buy furniture that I need to assemble at home it always looks terrible. I’m not good at following directions.
- You can tell me anything you like, I’m very good at keeping secrets. I’ll never share your story with anyone else.
- All the closets in my house are very neat and tidy. You can easily find whatever you’re looking for. My wife is really good at organizing closets, she should do it for a living.
- One of my classmates in high school excelled at whatever he tried. The guy was good at everything.
|The prepositions TO and AT can be confusing. Learn how to use these prepositions with VERBS here – Verbs with the prepositions TO and AT (Video + PDF)|
The adjective phrase “good in” is rare to use when you’re talking about the skill level of someone. It is possible to say…
- “She’s good in Geography.”
…when we are talking about a school class or subject, but for me as a native speaker, the preposition at is a more natural choice here.
- “She’s good at Geography.”
Even Google Docs prefers She’s good at Geography. It suggests AT if I type IN.
Good in can be a natural fit in sentences that talk about serious conditions:
- Let’s send Evan to the meeting, he is good in high-pressure situations.
*Evan does well in high-pressure situations.
- Navy SEALS are highly trained. They are good in very stressful environments.
*They perform well in very stressful environments” is also natural.
- I just put winter tires on my car. They’re good in the snow.
*My tires perform well in snowy conditions.
|I put on my snow tires every year in early December.|
One very informal exception – If someone is a skilled lover we can say that person is “Good IN bed.”
- Don Juan is a famous Spanish lover who was rumored to be very good in bed.
Learn to use the Prefix RE– to quickly increase your English vocabulary here > The Prefix RE – 60 examples (Definitions, Free PDF, Video)
FAQ Is it good at English or good in English?
Good at English is more natural. The same way we say that someone is good at baseball, we omit the gerund “playing” but the meaning doesn’t change.
If someone is good at English we can feel that they are good at using English. [Speaking, reading, writing] We are referring to English as a topic of study.
Daisuke: “I need to send an email to our office in Toronto.”
Mariko: “Ask Mr. Tanaka to help you write it, he’s good at English.”
Good IN – Good meaning high quality
You may hear Good IN used when the meaning of good is high quality. Please read these examples. The adjective phrase “good in” doesn’t mean skilled in these sentences.
- I love that shirt! You look good in blue.
- Last year was challenging but try to focus on things that were good in the past 12 months. If you look hard you can find them!
|It’s tough to find things that were good last year, but I’m really trying.|
Good WITH – grammar
There are more than 15 ways to use the preposition WITH. When with is paired with the adjective good it means – used to show the way in which somebody does something
- Keith is very good with his hands. (This means he can do many things with tools that you use with your hands. It’s another way to say someone is handy.)
We can also use this meaning without the adjective good.
- In the Summer I always sleep with the window open.
When we say “good with” we will use an uncountable noun or the plural form of a countable noun.
- Helen is good with money. (Money is an uncountable noun)
- Alec is good with people. (People is the plural form of the countable noun person.)
GOOD WITH – examples
Good with children – Have a talent for understanding and communicating with children. To get along with children well.
- My cousin is a third-grade teacher. She is good with children.
|Being good with children is a natural skill, it doesn’t seem like something that you can learn. Not everyone has that ability.|
|Children is the plural form of child. Learn more about how to use the Suffix -EN at my blog post here: The Suffix EN Your Best Guide (free PDF download)|
Good with people – Easy to get along with others; friendly
- A: Julia just got promoted to manager.
- B: I’m not surprised, she’s good with people. I’m sure she will be a good manager.
Good with animals – To be comfortable around and enjoy being with animals.
- Her brother is a vet. He has always been good with animals, ever since he was a boy. (Vet is short for veterinarian. This is an animal doctor.)
veterinarian at Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries
|If you want to become an animal doctor, of course, you must be good with animals.|
Good with money – To use money well. To be good at saving money and not waste it.
- Bill saved up enough money to buy a car when he was still in high school. He is very good with money.
Good AT Good WITH – negative
We add the word ‘NOT’ before good to make our sentences negative.
- She’s NOT good with people.
- He’s NOT good at geography.
- I’m NOT good with numbers.
- We’re NOT good at baseball.
GOOD Comparison and superlative
The comparison and superlative forms of GOOD are BETTER and BEST. These all work in the same expressions.
- My 2 brothers are better at soccer than me, but I’m the best at hockey.
*The superlative form BEST will follow the article THE. Best means #1, so it is only talking about one person or thing.
- A: Lisa is better with children than Amy. She has more patience.
B: I agree. Out of all of our staff, Lisa is number one. She is the best with her students.
*Good with people can be used with a specific group of people.
- Out of all of our staff, Lisa is the best with her students.
- Oliver is good with his staff.
We can also use other adjectives with a similar feeling.
Awesome AT/WITH – Great AT/WITH – Fantastic AT/WITH
- Brian is awesome with computers.
- Wendy is great at soccer.
- My wife is fantastic with my family.
Good FOR is used with things.
- This stretch is good FOR your shoulders.
- Exercise is good FOR your health.
|Lifting weights is good for strength and stability.|
Good AT, Good IN, or Good WITH – Conclusion
Remember to use Good at before a verb and Good with before a noun and your English will sound natural. Good in is not really a common expression.
What are you good at? Is there something you are really good with? Leave a comment for me at the bottom of this post.
|Do you want to sound like a native speaker? Use more IDIOMS! |
This awesome post is a great place to start – 10 Idioms with PIG (Learn FAST with pictures and examples)
This post is one of my biggest! Idiom$ About MONEY (120 Common English Financial Idioms)
Good AT, WITH, or IN
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Good AT Vs. Good WITH Vs. Good IN Infographic
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