Adjective + Preposition combinations: angry at or angry about?

So which is it, angry at or angry about? Are both of them correct? When should I use each?

I hope this post will help clear up some of your doubts.

I am sure you are by now aware of the fact that adjectives, together with verbs and nouns, are followed by specific prepositions. You learn many of these combinations without realising right from the beginning but just as your language level gets higher, so does the number of the combinations you have to deal with and it therefore becomes more complicated to remember them all.

Is there an actual pattern? I’m afraid not. You need to learn them and commit them to memory as you go, maybe allocating specific space for them in your notebooks, always with examples that will place them in context for you to be able to remember them better and use them accurately. Grouping them depending on, for example, the preposition, could also be a good idea. Whatever works best for you.

Let’s first have a look at what sort of word an adjective is: adjectives, unlike in Spanish, are always singular in English. We say both ‘an important client’ and ‘important clients’ but not importants clients’. An adjective tells us about the qualities of a noun (a thing, a person, a place, etc.) and therefore are used to describe them.

The role of the prepositions in these combinations is to link two concepts and inform us of the relationship between them: Lucy is angry at Damian. The preposition ‘at’ lets us know that Lucy’s anger is directed towards Damian.

This post is not going to deal with all adjective + preposition combinations but to a few in particular: those in which after one adjective the preposition will be different depending on the word that follows, for example, ‘angry with’ and ‘angry at’.

(sb. = somebody / sth. = something)

  • angry at/with sb.: I’m angry with all of you. (Estoy enfadada con todos vosotros.)
  • angry about sth.: She was angry about the rejection of the deal. (Estaba enfadada por el rechazo del acuerdo.)
  • angry at/with sb. about/for sth.: They were terribly angry at us for showing up so late for the meeting. (Estaban enfadados con nosotros por aparecer tan tarde a la reunión.)
  • annoyed with sb.: I was annoyed with myself for making such a silly mistake. (Estaba enfadado conmigo mismo por cometer un error tan tonto.)
  • annoyed at/about sth.: We were very annoyed at her childish behaviour. (Estábamos muy molestos con su comportamiento infantil.)
  • generous of sb. to do sth.: It was generous of them to offer to help us. (Fue generoso por su parte ofrecerse a ayudarnos.)
  • generous with sth.: I’m so busy I can’t afford to be too generous with my time. (Estoy tan ocupada que no puedo permitirme ser generosa con mi tiempo.)
  • (be) good/bad at sth.: Graham’s always been very good at numbers and figures. (A Graham siempre se le han dado bien los números y cifras.)
  • (be) good/bad for sth./sb.: A change in management might be good for the company. (Puede que un cambio en la dirección sea bueno para la empresa.)
  • (be) good/bad with sb.: You need to be good with difficult customers to work in the Customer Service Department. (Se te tienen que dar bien los clientes difíciles para trabajar en Atención al Cliente.)
  • (be) good of sb. to do sth.: It was very good of Sally to help the intern on this first day here. (Fue bueno de Sally ayudar al becario en su primer día aquí.)
  • responsible for sb./sth.: Who’s responsible for production in this factory? (¿Quién es el responsable de producción en esta fábrica?)
  • responsible for doing sth.: Anne’s responsible for dealing with our suppliers. (Anne se responsabiliza del trato con proveedores.)
  • responsible to sb.: I’m responsible to the Head of sales. (Respondo ante el Director de ventas.)
  • sorry about sth.: We are sorry about the delay in our delivery. (Nos disculpamos por el retraso en nuestra entrega.)
  • sorry for doing sth.: I’m sorry for not informing you sooner. (Me disculpo por no haberte informado antes.)
  • (feel/be) sorry for sb.: I feel sorry for Andrew. He’s been very unlucky lately. (Me da pena Andrew. Ha tenido muy mala suerte últimamente.)

I hope you find this post useful. Please feel free to ask any questions by posting a comment.


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