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    #1

    Cool disappointed

    Hi ,

    Which is the right preposition: to be disappointed with or by?

    Thanks
    W

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    #2

    Re: disappointed

    Hi Will

    And don't forget 'disappointed with'!

    This is a good question and even as a native speaker, I had to think about this before answering. I think 'disappointed with/in' mean the same: you are disappointed with/in something/somebody:

    I am disappointed in you/with you!

    I was disappointed in the movie/with the movie.

    Whereas disappointed in/with are used to describe the STATE of being disappointed, 'disappointed by' has a slightly different meaning - but it's very subtle - suggesting the ACTION of being disappointed. Consider this, from a headline:

    "Zola disappointed by West Ham exit"

    I don't know if you're interested in football but here you have a single action at a single point in time - Gianfranco Zola's sacking by West Ham - causing Zola's disappointment. As I said though, the difference in meaning is often very subtle. As with 'in'/'with' you could say:

    I was disappointed by the movie

    and the meaning would be pretty much the same.

    Hope that helps
    Bertie

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: disappointed

    Quote Originally Posted by Will17 View Post
    Hi ,

    Which is the right preposition: to be disappointed with or by?

    Thanks
    W
    It depends on what comes after "disappointed".

    I was very disappointed with the meal I had last night.

    I was very disappointed by the actions of someone I thought was my friend.

    Disappointed with means that you experienced something and you weren't happy with it, or it didn't live up to your expectations.

    Disappointed by usually means that you feel that someone or something let you down personally.

    We also use "disappointed in". For example, a child has got into trouble at school and the school ring the child's parents to tell them. When the child gets home, the parents might say "We just want you to know that we are very disappointed in you."

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    #4

    Re: disappointed

    I have to disagree. If someone lets you down you are as much 'disappointed in them' as 'by their actions'. It is a question of agency: 'in/with' for a state of disappointment; 'by' for an action of disappointment. That is why when there is a clear action that causes disappointment you would say 'by', eg you would not say 'Zola disappointed in sacking' but 'Zola disappointed by sacking'. Often the 3 have very little difference in meaning.

    I was disappointed by the meal

    I was disappointed in the meal

    I was disappointed with the meal

    The 1st sentence has a slightly different meaning but it's all of a muchness.

  2. euncu's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: disappointed

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    friend.

    Disappointed with means that you experienced something and you weren't happy with it, or it didn't live up to your expectations.

    Disappointed by usually means that you feel that someone or something let you down personally.
    There is no way for me to tell the difference between these two sentences.

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: disappointed

    Quote Originally Posted by bertietheblue View Post
    I have to disagree.
    I've read both your and emsr2d2's posts twice now, and still can't see where you disagree.

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    #7

    Re: disappointed

    Raymott

    In most cases, as in the example I gave with the 'meal' sentence, the sense is essentially the same but I maintain that there is a subtle difference. 'Disappointed by' suggests something has happened that has dashed your hopes or expectations (in time line terms, a favourite of English teachers, it would be indicated by a vertical arrow); 'disappointed in/with' implies that you are in a state of disappointment because of something that has happened (in time line terms, a continous horizontal arrow). In practice, almost the same but with a different emphasis. Otherwise, they would be interchangeable in all cases, which they aren't.

    So:
    'I was disappointed by him' - he let me down (one instance)
    I was disappointed in/with him' - no suggestion of an action causing disappointment; instead, this conveys a general feeling of disappointment

  4. Raymott's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: disappointed

    Quote Originally Posted by bertietheblue View Post
    Raymott

    In most cases, as in the example I gave with the 'meal' sentence, the sense is essentially the same but I maintain that there is a subtle difference. 'Disappointed by' suggests something has happened that has dashed your hopes or expectations (in time line terms, a favourite of English teachers, it would be indicated by a vertical arrow); 'disappointed in/with' implies that you are in a state of disappointment because of something that has happened (in time line terms, a continous horizontal arrow). In practice, almost the same but with a different emphasis. Otherwise, they would be interchangeable in all cases, which they aren't.

    So:
    'I was disappointed by him' - he let me down (one instance)
    "I was disappointed by him yet again." Is this possible?

    I was disappointed in/with him' - no suggestion of an action causing disappointment;
    Well, something made you disappointed in/with him. It's true that you could be disappointed in him because you wanted a girl and you got a boy - which was no action on his part. But 'in/with' are just as valid if there has been an action by him.
    instead, this conveys a general feeling of disappointment.
    If you have a general feeling of disappointment, why attribute it to him using 'in/with'? You'd only do this if the disappointment was caused by him - in which case, you would have been disappointed by him.
    I can see the arrow implications of the difference between: "I am disappointed by/with/in ..." and "I was disappointed by/with/in ..."
    I don't see that 'in' and 'with' require different time lines.

    In any event, I think that individual usage varies to such an extent that they all mean essentially the same thing. Yes, one can find a difference if students insist on it but, as often as not, the difference found and explicated in such cases is highly debatable.

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