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  1. #1
    loui is offline Junior Member
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    Post Laugh at VS Laugh about

    Laugh at VS Laugh about
    What's the difference in meaning, context, etc?
    When would you use one or the other ?
    Are they interchangeable ?
    which one is the most Common in THE UNITED STATES?
    or Did I just make up a new verb LOL


    the little girl was laughing ___ me because I was wearing my T-shirt backwards

    Everybody was laughing ____ the joke I'd just said

    I was sarcastically laughing ___ having to work tomorrow morning after staying up a;; night clubbing

    We remember an old joke and the we laugh _____ it
    Last edited by loui; 02-Oct-2009 at 22:29.

  2. #2
    dragn is offline Member
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    Re: Laugh at VS Laugh about

    Laugh at VS Laugh about
    What's the difference in meaning, context, etc?
    When would you use one or the other ?
    This is tough...and exceedingly slippery; it's the sort of question where no matter what I say, someone will pop in and say, "Oh yeah? Well what about this, that, and the other thing?" So be it.

    Here's my gut feeling:

    * If the object is a person or group of people, we tend to say laugh at.
    * If the the object is a situation, we tend to say laugh about.
    * In reference to a joke, we tend to say laugh at.
    * In reference to something recalled, we tend to say laugh about.
    * In reference to something that has just occurred, we tend to say laugh at.


    You could fill a rather sizable book with exceptions to each of the above, however.

    Are they interchangeable ?
    Very nearly so, with a few possible exceptions.

    which one is the most Common in THE UNITED STATES?
    Both are commonly used.

    Did I just make up a new verb LOL
    No, you didn't.

    Here is how I would complete your examples:

    The little girl was laughing at me because I was wearing my T-shirt backwards.

    Everybody was laughing at the joke I'd just told. (NOT said!)

    I was sarcastically laughing about having to work tomorrow morning after staying up all night clubbing.

    We remembered an old joke and then we laughed at it
    . (Past tense sounds more natural here.)

    The last one is a good example of the slippery nature of this, and one reason why there are so many exceptions. We generally laugh about something we remember, but we laugh at a joke. Well, what if you remember a joke? People might say either one. I chose at. Others may choose about.

    And so it goes.

    Hope this helps.

    Greg

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