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  1. beachboy's Avatar
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    #1

    a/the knack for/of doing something

    Can the expressions to have a knack for doing something and to have the knack of doing something convey the same meaning? I think the first always refers to talent and the second to annoying habits. Am I right?
    Last edited by beachboy; 09-Feb-2010 at 15:01.

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    #2

    Exclamation Re: a/the knack for/of doing something

    Quote Originally Posted by beachboy View Post
    Can the expressions to have a knack for doing something and to have the knack of doing something convey the same meaning? I think the first refers always refers to talent and the second to annoying habits. Am I right?
    I do not think there is any difference. When there is specific reference to a previous context, you use the knack of; otherwise a knack for; as:

    There was rapt silence and everyone was keen to hear him. How is he able to do it I wonder ?
    He's got the knack of getting people to listen.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: a/the knack for/of doing something

    Quote Originally Posted by beachboy View Post
    Can the expressions to have a knack for doing something and to have the knack of doing something convey the same meaning? I think the first always refers to talent and the second to annoying habits. Am I right?
    I think your impression about 'a [noun] for...' is right - hence phrases such as a gift for/ a talent for/an instinct for/a penchant for/a liking for/an aptitude for/ a craving for.... etc.

    But the collocation 'a knack for' isn't - in my experience - a strong one; I don't use it, and I suspect (without having done the necessary research ) the usage originated from the phrase 'the knack of' combined with the influence of all those 'a [noun] for' expressions ( which do have the sort of instinctive and/or latent connotations you have noticed).

    In short, I see it as a new kid on the block that I don't like very much . (My dislike, though, is not as violent as for some other 'noun + new preposition' collocations such as 'the secret to' [shudder], coming soon to a shampoo advertisement near you).

    b

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