proficient in/at and skilled in/at

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Hese, May 20, 2008.

  1. Hese Senior Member

    Hello there,

    when I check my dictionaries, I find different indications about the preposition I should use with "proficient" and "skilled".

    I always find "proficient in a language" and "skilled in a language" but at times I find examples with "proficient at doing" and "skilled at doing"

    So, when do you use at and when is "in" appropriate?

    Thank you
  2. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    I think it varies by context, I'm afraid.

    Generally, I think one is often "proficient at" a task.
  3. deddish Senior Member

    Ontario, Canada
    English .ca
    For some reason I feel that "proficient at" is less natural than "proficient in". Skilled in a field, proficient in a field, skilled at doing something (though "I am a skilled ___er" would be better) but "I am proficient at ____ing" doesn't sound... ... natural to me at all, actually.
  4. cycloneviv

    cycloneviv Senior Member

    Perth, Western Australia
    English - Australia
  5. El escoces Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    English - UK
    I agree with bibliolept that the context governs the correct choice of preposition; I also consider that you need to be ready to use both. You would be proficient at swimming, for example (you would never say proficient in swimming) but I think you would be proficient in Spanish/French etc.

    Hope this helps.
  6. Hese Senior Member

    Ah ok. So may I conclude:

    proficient in something/skilled at doing something
    proficient in something/proficient at doing something

    Is that tenable?
  7. ThomSOEL New Member

    I think of it like this, as a general rule:
    proficiant/skilled at (Verb)
    proficiant/skilled in (Noun)

    skilled in swimming sounds/feels wrong because it doesn't follow the above rules. skilled at science trivia sounds/feels wrong for the same reason.
    skilled at swimming(verb). skilled in science trivia.
    Some words that could be a noun or verb can cause -in- or -at- to be confusing. Like: proficient in/at photography.

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