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2018-12-03 19:24:53

 
to have a knack for something" [引用]

"to have a way with something" vs "to have a knack for something"

to have a knack implies that you're truly very proficient at the mentioned activity and to have a way just means you have some talent but is not necessarily that good.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Fabrício Santos Santana, Jun 1, 2017.

  1. Is there any difference in meaning between these two expressions, be it in general or in particular contexts?
    What do each of them always imply, if anything?
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2017
  2.  
  3. jmichaelmSenior Member

    NJ, USA
    English - US
    There are few universal truths in English. About the time I think I know one, someone presents a counterexample. So rather than looking for universal answers like this, it's safer to understand and use specific cases.

    That said, I'm not certain they are perfectly interchangeable. I would say, "He has a knack for fixing engines." or "He has a way with engines." They are similar syntactically but not exactly the same.
     
  4. I think you're right about that, but I meant a difference in meaning, for instance: to have a knack implies that you're truly very proficient at the mentioned activity and to have a way just means you have some talent but is not necessarily that good. This is the difference I thought of, but I'm not a native and I started learning the language less than 2 years ago, so I'm not sure.
     
  5. Scott AM

    Scott AMSenior Member

    English - Canada
    I think both have a knack for and have a way with imply some kind of innate proficiency, skill, or talent. Something more than can be learned or practised. In my eyes, I don't think either phrase is stronger than the other. And I also agree with jmichaelm that they aren't necessarily interchangeable.

    To give another example, you might say that a charming man has a way with women. But you would not say he has a knack for women.
     
  6. Got it, but maybe you would say "he has a knack for seducing woman", right? So, the difference is in usage, not so much in what they imply, I guess...
     
  7. dojibear

    dojibearSenior Member

    Fresno CA
    English - Northeast US
    That makes sense. The meanings are roughly the same: an untrained talent. We don't use either phrase to mean "after much training he has developed proficiency".

    So the big difference is where they are used. Also "knack for" attaches to a verb, while "way with" attaches to a plural noun. In #4s example, you could say he has a knack for seducing women.

    cross-posted
     
  8. Scott AM

    Scott AMSenior Member

    English - Canada
    That's how I see it, yes.
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