“Angry at” or “Angry with?”

Should I use “Angry at” or “Angry with?”

Some people believe that the terms angry at and angry with can be used interchangeably. While this is the case under some circumstances, it usually the case that one of these terms should be preferred over the other.

If the subject of a person’s anger is a situation — such as traffic conditions or the weather — or something that is non-human — a cat, for example — you would say that the person is angry at the situation or thing. “I am angry at my cat for causing a mess,” should be used instead of “I am angry with my cat . . . .” When discussing a situation, you also have the option to use angry about. “I am angry at this weather,” and “I am angry about this weather,” are both good choices.

The situation gets muddled a bit when the subject of a person’s anger is another human. The term angry with has been used much more commonly than angry at in writing when anger is directed toward another person, but the use of angry at in such situations has been on the up-rise during the past half-century. People who are picky about grammar still opine that angry with is the only acceptable phrase to use when someone’s anger is directed at another person, but this rule is weakening.

This rule is even weaker when a person is the subject of his or her own anger. Though angry with myself has been used more often historically, the phrases angry with myself and angry at myself are used about as often as one another today. Despite the recent trend, angry with myself should probably still be used in writing. In casual conversation, angry at myself is acceptable. Its use has become so common recently that angry with myself  should almost be categorized as “formal” rather than as “correct.”

Jake Magnum, author of the Magnum Proofreading Blog, is dedicated to helping writers perfect their work. In addition to giving free advice on his blog, Jake helps writers by offering very affordable proofreading services at magnumproofreading.com.

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