Focus On or Focus In – Which Is Correct? (Helpful Examples)

When paying a lot of attention to something, do you usually say “Focus On” or “Focus In”?

We want to know which of those forms is correct and why. We also want to figure out how to use them in our daily conversations.

Focus On or Focus In – Which Is Correct?

“Focus On” is the correct form that you should incorporate to your daily vocabulary and use frequently. “Focus In” is incorrect and should be avoided. The reason is quite simple. “In” indicates the inside of something – and it’d be virtually impossible to focus inside anything.

focus on or in

Let’s take a look at some examples, and then look at each form separately:

  • Bert needs to focus on his science homework.
  • Bert needs to focus in his science homework. (incorrect)
  • Joseph should focus on his job more, because the boss isn’t happy.
  • Joseph should focus in his job more, because the boss isn’t happy. (incorrect)

The examples show two sets of sentences, both with the same simple variation: one contains the form “Focus On” and the other, the form “Focus In”. To use “Focus In” is plain wrong, and makes no sense in developing the message the sentence intends to convey.

Focus On

“Focus On” is the grammatically correct form, in this case. The preposition “on” here indicates that the eyes of the subject, in the sense of their attention, are being placed on what needs to be taken care of, what needs focus.

This is how “Focus On” would be seen in a sentence:

  1. Kyle’s major in college was Biology, with a focus on microbiology.
  2. Focusing on work is hard when there are so many distractions around.
  3. Linda is laser focused on her career, and on getting that promotion.
  4. Jonathan was having a hard time focusing on his schoolwork after the breakup.
  5. She went to the library so she could have a quiet environment to focus on her work.

“Focus On” is a figurative way to express someone’s dedication to what they are doing. But the idea is that the focus is being placed on that issue, or task. Therefore, “Focus On” works perfectly to send that message.

Focus In

“Focus In” is grammatically incorrect and simply should be avoided. The preposition “In” should indicate the inside of something, and this concept doesn’t relate well with the meaning of “Focus”.

Let’s see some examples of how not to use “Focus In” in a sentence, and what a corrected version of it would look like:

  1. Cara used binoculars to focus in the bird on the tree. (incorrect)
  2. Cara used binoculars to focus on the bird on the tree.
  3. Fred focused in his algebra work. (incorrect)
  4. Fred focused on his algebra work.
  5. Nathaniel needed to focus in his work, or else he’d never finish on time. (incorrect)
  6. Nathaniel needed to focus on his work, or else he’d never finish on time.

Whenever you need to describe your personal focus (or someone else’s, for that matter) always remember to use “Focus On”, and leave “Focus In” out of the sentence.

Which Is Used the Most?

It’s possible that you have a guess by now, about what’s the most commonly used form, “Focus On” or “Focus In”. Still, let’s take a look at the graph from Google Ngram Viewer below and see for ourselves.

focus on or in usage

As we believed was expected by most of us, “Focus On” appears impressively more frequently than “Focus In”. It’s indeed the grammatically correct form and it should be used most, for sure. Consequently, it appears way more often.

However, we still see “Focus In” being used a little bit. And the reason for it is that sometimes, people use the wrong form, simply because they don’t know better. You should keep in mind, though, that the fact it pops up every now and then doesn’t make “Focus In” acceptable.

“Focus In” should always be avoided.

Final Thoughts

This is a fairly straightforward case when one expression is correct and the other one isn’t. “Focus On” is the correct form to use, because it indicates that the subject’s focus is placed on what needs attention. “Focus In” is incorrect and should be avoided.