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Experience in/with/of Options
phumla petit
Posted: Sunday, April 1, 2012 9:47:12 AM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 7/28/2011
Posts: 4
Neurons: 12
Hello Everyone,

Can someone please assist:

Having experience with....
Having experience in....
Having experience of.....

How does one effectively explain the difference in the sentences above without doing more harm than good to an english student?

Thanks in advance.
thar
Posted: Sunday, April 1, 2012 10:08:21 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 22,450
Neurons: 90,987
this is a maze in a minefield, because I do not think there are clear rules.

the thing that occurs to me is that there are assumed words missing here. The different usages depend on the usage of preposition with the individual words:

I work with children
I work in pediatrics

so
I have experience of working with children
I have experience with children

I have experience of working in pediatrics
I have experience in pediatrics

I have experience of war
= I have experienced (been subjected to - been through the experience of) war

I have experience in finance
= I am experienced (I have worked for some time - gained the experience) in finance

other than that, good luck. Maybe the more grammatically adept here can help!
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Sunday, April 1, 2012 10:13:02 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 34,223
Neurons: 225,152
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hello phumla petit!

These are probably not the only ways these phrases can be used, but my immediate answer would be:

Having experience with.... - often followed by a noun.
"I have experience with dogs, and know how to handle them."

'experience' here means 'knowledge gained about an object by actual physical contact'

Having experience in.... - often followed by a gerund (verb with 'noun qualities')
"I have experience in handling dogs"

This is often used to describe the way someone has been trained.
"Joe did a college course in bricklaying, but has never laid a brick"
"Bill never did a course, but has a lot of experience in brick-laying."
'experience' means 'knowledge gained about an action by actual practical work' in this case.

Having experience of..... - often followed by situations or specific types of occurrence
"I have experience of meeting angry dogs in the dark - and do not like it."

'experience' here is simply 'an event, or type of event, lived through' and does not have the idea of gained knowledge.

After typing the above, I looked in TFD definitions of 'experience' - there is no mention I can see there of which one to use in which definition (except one example sentence using 'experience in').

I don't know about your student's level of English, but that is about the only way I can explain it.

You might relate it to 'knowledge of/about'):
I know of the Taj Mahal (I have heard the name and seen a picture)
I know about the Taj Mahal (I have read articles about it and it's history and style)
I know the Taj Mahal (I have been there and studied it thoroughly)


I hope that helps - those usages are, I think, the normal ones in British English.
phumla petit
Posted: Sunday, April 1, 2012 12:50:46 PM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 7/28/2011
Posts: 4
Neurons: 12
Thank you for replies - much appreciated.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Sunday, April 1, 2012 4:09:03 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 34,223
Neurons: 225,152
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
phumla petit wrote:
Thank you for replies - much appreciated.


You are welcome - I hope it helped.

It seems thar and I were typing at the same time but I do not think our answers are different - thank God! Dancing
thar
Posted: Sunday, April 1, 2012 4:21:04 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 22,450
Neurons: 90,987
@pp ditto, thanks appreciated (although I think Dragon was probably more use)

@Dragon - it is scary how often we agree on things - I am going to have to pick a fight with you or try and destroy one of your arguments soon, just to restore the natural balance.

(Or I could move to New Zealand, so we can agree but in different shifts)
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Sunday, April 1, 2012 4:33:38 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 34,223
Neurons: 225,152
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
@thar
Ha! It wouldn't work moving to NZ - I often do the same thing with Romany in China. But, if you want an argument, you could look at some of my 'posts' of today to see what will do that.
A disagreement with my opinions is no problem.
rogermue
Posted: Sunday, April 1, 2012 4:41:38 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 1/28/2012
Posts: 5,045
Neurons: 34,900
Location: München, Bavaria, Germany
An interesting problem in the vast field of prepositions and their usage.
There are words with one preposition eg 'interest in sth', which is a fixed combination of noun + preposition and there are words where several prepositions for adding a complement are possible.

I looked up experience (noun) in my Longman dictionary - it says:
experience + of/in/with. No further remark about this problem. So one might guess you can use the preposition according to your feeling.

Longman's examples are
- You've got a lot of experience of lecturing. Remark: My feeling would tell me that 'in' should be possible as well.
- My experience in many areas of the music business.
- He had no previous experience of managing a farm.
- I had some experience in fashion design.
- ... to gain some experience of the world of work.

I like the way thar and Dragon gave their view as to this problem.

As an outsider my view is of no value. But I might guess that
1 - experience + 'with' is prefered when the complement refers to persons/animals
no experience with children/dogs, with handling children/dogs
2 experience + 'in' when a special field of activity follows as
no/a lot of experience in fashion design
3 experience + of: when neither (1) or (2) fits I would take 'of'

Of course I had to verify with a lot of collected examples if my sight of things can be taken as a thumb-rule.
And it is clear that not every writer will have the same sight as I have.
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