Laughing at vs. laughing with

Maybe you’ve heard the expression:

Are you laughing *at* me, or *with* me?

Considering that prepositions can be challenging (to say the least!), this phrase might be extra confusing for English learners. Here’s a quick look into what this means.

to laugh at

laughter directed toward a person or action; sometimes, laughing at someone can be considered rude (but not always)

Example:
The little boy tripped down the stairs and his schoolmates laughed at him. He was very sad. (They are being rude or cruel.)
I laugh at his jokes all the time. (This meaning is not rude or cruel, since jokes are meant to be funny.)

to laugh with

laughter in a group of people; laughing together with others about something everyone finds funny

Example:
They were laughing with me as I was trying tell the story.

So what does that original sentence mean?

“Are you laughing at me, or with me?”
“I don’t think you’re laughing *with* me…”

Usually, this means the speaker has done something funny…but maybe embarrassing. The major difference between the two is that “laughing with” means that everyone finds something funny, but “laughing at” means that everyone *except* the main person involved finds it funny, and the laughter is directed toward that person.

This is a friendly and lighthearted way to ask someone: Are you making fun of me? Are you laughing at my mistake/embarrassing moment?


Learn more expressions like this in my free e-book!
“33 Everyday English Expressions”

Submit your email address and get access to my new e-book of useful and practical phrases you can use in every day conversation, complete with definitions and examples.

Click here for your e-book

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.