Be very bad at Vs be hopeless at

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Xavier da Silva

Senior Member
Hello everyone,

After doing some research here on W.R and on Google, I got the impression that the phrase "be very bad at doing something", for example, "I'm very bad at sports" is not as good as "I'm hopeless at sports", both meaning that someone "has no talent", "does something very badly". My question: which option [be very bad at x be hopeless at] sound idiomatic in my examples below?

a. I'm very bad at sports and languages.


b. I'm hopeless at sports and languages.

* I think that in terms of grammar both are fine, but ''I'm hopeless at...'' is, in practice, a more natural option - the one I think is idiomatic, according to my research.

Thank you in advance!
Last edited:
  • Scholiast

    Senior Member

    Both are indeed grammatical, and both idiomatic. But "I'm hopeless..." sounds to my ear just a fraction more naturally conversational than "I'm very bad...". One would in any case be very unlikely to find either turn of phrase in a formal written context of any kind.



    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I would be more inclined to say "I'm no good at sports", rather than "very bad at sports. But I'm really bad at tennis - in fact, I'm hopeless at it.
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