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What are you skilled at?

Describe skills in English

“good at” vs “good with”

In different situations, you will have to describe your skills and abilities. An interviewer may want to give a job candidate an overview of the qualities he or she is looking for in an employee and requirements for the job. If you are the job applicant yourself, you would have to describe your skills and competencies and explain how they match the position you are interviewing for. It might be also the case that you are giving career advice to a friend and list the qualities necessary for a job.

In all of these scenarios, you will probably mention what you or someone else is or should be good (or skilled) at, or things the person should be good with.

So, what’s the difference between the two structures and how to use them? Here’s a rule of thumb for you to help you understand the nuances of using these expressions.

  • Typically, when you want to highlight a specific area of expertise or activity, you would use the phrase “good/skilled at.”illed at’. As in ‘good at math/ problem-solving/ decision-making/ using Excel/ giving presentations/ public speaking, etc’. In these cases, you would often need to use a gerund, which is a verb ending in -ing.
  • On the other hand, if you are talking about things, people, tools, etc, you would say that you are ‘good with computers/ numbers/ words/people/ children/ Excel’. “I am good with computers” or “She is good with children.”
  • It’s also possible to use negative forms of these phrases, such as “bad/awful/terrible with,” or “bad at.” For example, “He is bad with names” or “She is terrible at remembering faces.

Over to you

  1. What are some of your skills?
  2. What skills would you appreciate in an employer?

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