Proficient in Or with? a Or an Before u?

Proficient in Or with? a Or an Before u?

Proficient in Or with? a Or an Before u?

Proficient has been in the English language since 1526 when it was initially used to describe someone skilled at playing music. It comes from the Latin word proficient, which means progressing or making progress.

The word’s root can also be found in English words such as proficient and progression. It carries the same meaning today – an expert or a highly qualified individual with expertise in their field.

English language rules

There needs to be some clarification about whether to use the word proficient in grammar, syntax, and spelling. The word proficient can be used as both a noun and an adjective. As a noun, it means skilled at something, competent enough to do something well.

When discussing a subject, the phrase “proficient in” is commonly used: “proficient in science,” “proficient in auto mechanics,” and so on.

When discussing a tool, the phrase “proficient with” is used: “proficient with a hammer,” “proficient with the violin.”

The phrase “proficient at” refers to a specific activity: “proficient at swimming” or “proficient at building houses.”

With is an instrumental usage, as if English is a tool — proficient with knives, proficient with horses, proficient with languages, mainly English. Perfectly cromulent, but I suspect not frequently encountered.

At is a punctual locative, referring to a specific location in a larger area or metaphoric space (e.g., in May, on Tuesday, at 2:34 p.m.) — proficient at locating his deer every year, proficient at locating the flaw in my argument, proficient at language and language games.

In general, proficient (or skilled) cannot take just any clause or phrase as its object; it must be some activity that is learnable, repeatable, and worth repeating. For example, *proficient in going down to Joe’s and bringing me a ham on rye right now, *proficient in being late three times out of four, etc.

I’m sure there is a slew of other constraints governing the object of in with proficient, and best of luck in figuring them out.

Proficient in vs. Proficient with

The word proficient can be used as either an adjective or an adverb and have different meanings. For example, if the word proficient is used as an adjective, it means competent, skilled, experienced, or competent.

If the word proficient is used as an adverb, to a very large extent, extremely, very, very well, very, very high.

  • An example sentence of proficiency as an adjective would be: She was proficient at the piano. An example sentence of proficiency as an adverb would be: I feel proficient about this question.  

The word fluent is similar to these terms; it means mastery over something. For example, being fluent in English could mean knowing all aspects of the language, from grammar to sentence structure to vocabulary.

It also expresses knowing how to use idioms correctly, which is not something all native speakers are aware of. If someone has been studying English for many years, they may still make mistakes because idioms sometimes take years to sink in fully.

Idiomatic expressions are common among those who speak English as a second language because this kind of expression only sometimes translates well into other languages.

These two words are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference between them that can be important to note.

When used as a verb, the word proficient means to have expertise in something specific, while proficient as an adjective means to have a high level of skill and know-how when it comes to something specific.

So if one’s goal is to become more knowledgeable about the language, one would want to use the word with it. One should use the word in if one wants to develop their skills in this area.  

When writing about a repeatable and learnable activity, use the phrase “proficient in.” When discussing instrumental proficiency, use the phrase “proficient with.”

One of the most common prepositions is “proficient in.” We use it to discuss any activity or task we’ve spent significant time learning about. That task must be repeatable and learnable. We must have prior experience with it before being considered “Proficient.”

Another common preposition is “experienced with.” Again, it is widespread because it refers to specific instruments or tools we use to complete a task.

If you want to refer to something by its name, “proficient with” is the best option. As you can see, when we say “proficient with,” we usually name something.

Examples are:

  • I’m proficient in language learning and would happily teach it to everyone.
  • I’m proficient in engineering because of my experience.
  • I’m proficient with all applications from the Adobe suite.
  • I’m proficient with Excel spreadsheets and every formula on them.

A vs. An before words start with U.

There are two ways to pronounce the word proficiently. One way sounds like the word profit, and the other way sounds like the word präfitent.

The first pronunciation means that it’s a school subject if you want to use it as a noun. It would help if you used proficiency instead of proficiency. If it’s used as an adjective, then both words are acceptable. However, it would be better to use proficient at the beginning of a sentence because there might not be room for an indefinite determiner such as a or an.

It would also sound awkward if you started your sentence with something like I am good at reading comprehension.

The indefinite article a, used before noun phrases, is represented by “a” and “an.” When the following noun or adjective begins with a consonant sound, use “a.” When the following noun or adjective begins with a vowel sound, use “an.” Remember that it is the pronunciation that is important, not the spelling.

Before a word that begins with a vowel (a,e, I,o,u) or a vowel sound, use the article “an” (words beginning with a silent “h” as heir, hour). Words beginning with “eu” or “u” and pronounced with a long “u” or like “you” use the article “a” before them.

Examples:Pexels Porapak Apichodilok 346709

  • a river
  • a boy
  • a mouse
  • a ukulele
  • an hour
  • an orange
  • an idea

The fundamental rule is slightly different; you put “a” before a consonant sound and “an” before a vowel sound. Because the letter “u” is a vowel and sometimes makes a vowel sound, “uh,” the correct indefinite article in a word like “an” underling is “an.”

Indefinite articles “a” and “an” are usually used before words that begin with consonants, and “an” before words that begin with vowels. When some letters have different sounds, this is only sometimes the case.

The two most common exceptions are “h,” which is sometimes silent, and thus the word may begin with the second letter, and “u,” which sometimes sounds like a “y” when pronounced.

Examples of “A” before “U” and “an” before “u”:

  • We need a unicorn for the stage.
  • I bought a used mobile.
  • Do you have a University in this city?
  • An unemployed man should have the same rights as an employed man.
  • It was an unfortunate mistake.
  • This is an urgent matter.


Regarding grammar, the best advice is to read, read, and then read some more. We use it broadly to refer to the activities we’re discussing.

We are “proficient in” the subject if we are not referring to a specific object or instrument we are working with. Hope you have learned all the terms which are confusing to many people when it comes to grammar. Best of luck!


Is it proficient in or proficient with?

When talking about a subject area, the phrase “proficient in” is typically used: “proficient in science,” “proficient in car mechanics,” etc. When referring to a tool of any kind, the phrase “proficient with” is used: “proficient with a hammer,” “proficient with the violin.”

Which preposition is used after proficient?

The function word “in” is used to indicate a quality, restriction, or circumstance about something or someone. Being “proficient in anything” refers to being very good at something.

How do you say proficient in a resume?

Replace phrases like “proficient” and “skilled” with “persistent” and “diligent” to make your CV stand out. These words show that you have initiative rather than only being informed.