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I wanted to express the idea "performing to one's full abilities at work", and the obvious thing to write was 仕事に[能力]{のうりょく}を[生]{い}かす. Indirect object before direct object. But a look on google indicates 能力を仕事に生かす is a much more popular word ordering. Is there any reason for this?

Also, is 仕事で能力を生かす admissible? (Treating work as a location now).

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I don't think that the latter is treating work as a location, but rather as an activity to which the skills are applied. If it were 職場で, then it would be a location. – yu_ominae Aug 27 '13 at 22:32
I'd probably use something like 「全力で働く」but that may have a different nuance to what you wanted. – Igor Skochinsky Aug 28 '13 at 0:12
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Perhaps one might think of 仕事で as "at/while work(ing)" and 仕事に as "at/for/to work".

You might also say something like [最大限]{さいだいげん}に[能力]{のうりょく}を[発揮]{はっき}する.

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