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Thread: Fail At/On

  1. #1
    EscapeSky is offline Banned
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    Arrow Fail At/On

    "He failed at/on simple tasks."
    "He failed at/on simple projects."

    Should I use "at" or "on"?

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    YouWishYouKnew is offline Newbie
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    Re: Fail At/On

    No teacher.

    I would say "fail at".
    He failed at simple tasks.
    I've read "Fail at life" several times, by the way.

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    BobSmith is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Fail At/On

    [not a teacher]

    You can use either, but there is a slight difference. To my ear, "on" is used for individual cases, while "at" is more indefinite and general.

    Example:

    Student: I didn't pass the test?
    Teacher: No, you failed on math.*
    Student: I fail at everything :(
    Teacher: No, you just failed to study properly. (Note, the teacher could have said "No, you just fail at studying properly". This would be rude, because it implies a general inability to study.)

    *The teacher could have said "No, you failed at the math portion." Here, the definite article (i.e. "the") takes away the "generalness" of "at" and changes the meaning of "at" to describe the location within the test, as in "your failure happened at the math portion."

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