Good At or Good In (or Good With?) Your complete guide

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.

Goodadjective
1. of high quality or an acceptable standard
2. pleasant; that you enjoy or want
Definition LINK

Good AT or Good WITH

Table of Contents

Good AT

The adjective phrase GOOD AT means: skilled, able, gifted, talented etc. Synonyms from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/thesaurus/good-at 

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.

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.

When we say good at a sport or good at a subject, the gerund form of the verb is understood, so 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 or Good WITH
I'm good at playing baseball.

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 good trumpet player in high school.

GOOD AT – 5 Common example sentences

Fixing

  • 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.

(This is a general statement that means my Dad can fix many things. He is handy.) handy adjective – able to use your hands or tools to make or repair things well
Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

Making

  • My Grandma is good at making cookies. I always loved to visit her when I was a child.
  • 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. 

Explaining

  • My Japanese teacher was very good at explaining new grammar. She always made it easy to understand using natural example sentences.
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)

Good IN

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 at or good in
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Good in is 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. 

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)

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 2021. If you look hard you can find them!

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. (Children is the plural form of child.)

  • My cousin is a third-grade teacher. She is good with children.

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.)

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 good with money.
Good AT or Good WITH Negative sentences

Good AT Good WITH – negative

To make the sentences negative 🛇

We can 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 AT or Good WITH - negative

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.

Adjectives for FACTS and FEELINGS

Good FOR is used with things.

  • This stretch is good FOR your shoulders.
  • Exercise is good FOR your health. 

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.

The preposition AT – more uses

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

Good AT Vs. Good WITH Vs. Good IN Infographic

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