Familiar with

How to use "familiar with" correctly

This is an entry on my list of Common Errors in English Usage. Visit the main page for direct links to additional entries.

Remember that the proper idiom for most instances of the adjective familiar is “familiar with [something]”; do not use to or any other preposition:

familiar to the artist’s work
familiar with the artist’s work
a chance to familiarize myself with the artist’s work

However, when you’re referring to someone’s perceptions, with a person (usually oneself) as the object of the preposition, use to instead:

the artist’s work seems familiar to me
OR the artist’s work seems familiar (without the prepositional phrase)

Related Resources

Common Errors in English Usage: Errors in diction and idiom commonly made by native speakers of English

List of Common Errors in English Usage (PDF): Printable version of the complete list

Common Grammar Errors: A list of common errors in grammar (topics like subject-verb agreement and parallelism) as distinct from usage

List of Common Errors in English Usage: PDF version

© 2006, 2008, and 2019 C. Brantley Collins, Jr.