I was arguing with a person with their sentence “I am good at the writing”. So they said since they were talking about academic things it is correct to use the before “writing”. My stance was you have to include part after “writing” like:

For instance: You can say, I am good at the writing part. But you cannot say, I am good at the writing.

I have never seen this structure before. I used Ludwig to see if I was wrong. And I found this:

  • I am good at writing. — Huffington Post
  • I'm good at writing about what I'm doing. — The New Yorker
  • I'm good at writing fake newspaper reports. — The Guardian-Books
  • "I'm good at writing about what I'm doing." he says. — The New Yorker
  • I'm a journalist, and I'm good at writing down what happened. — The New York Times
  • "I was good at school," she writes. — The New York Times - Books
  • I like writing and I'm good at it, so medical writing seems like it might be interesting. — Science Magazine
  • They were good at writing, maybe even writing a novel, but they had problem with news. — Huffington Post

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So, in the end I am still confused.

  • 1
    Your friend is wrong and so are you. It is incorrect to use the here, but you can say "I am good at writing/spelling/dancing" without adding any other words. Feb 6, 2023 at 9:36
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    I quote: But you cannot say, I am good at writing. I have never seen this structure before. No, it's not incorrect to say "I am good at the writing part". I said it was incorrect to say "I am good at the writing". Feb 6, 2023 at 10:13
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    Is this Ngram any help? I can find only one example of good at the writing without the addition of something like craft or of letters, and that's in a novel where it is spoken by an uneducated person. Feb 6, 2023 at 10:35
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    Everything that I've said applies in both conversation and writing. Feb 6, 2023 at 11:59
  • 1
    Ghost, why don't you live up to your name, and 'ghost' this stubborn person? or challenge them to supply proof? Feb 6, 2023 at 14:25

1 Answer 1


I am good at the writing. That sentence is simply wrong.

Writing is a gerund. A gerund is the present participle form of a verb. To create a gerund you simply add -ing. (there are a few special cases, but that will give you the right answer most times.) For example: walk > walking; learn > learning.

Though it has the form of a verb, a gerund functions as a noun in a sentence:

  • I love ice cream.
  • I love swimming.

Here swimming is the object of the sentence. It's the thing I love. Grammatically it has the same syntax as ice cream.

Here's a link to an introductory article on gerunds, with lots of examples, 31 in fact. (Yes indeed, I counted them all.) Now 30 of those 31 examples used the gerund without the. There was precisely one example which included the, and there was a very specific and precise reason for it. Here's the sentence:

Diana quickly grew tired of the constant complaining of the rude customers.

Why is the added here? It's because here the gerund acts as a possessive noun followed by of: "The complaining of the customers". That's the only place I know of that you can add the. So in the above example you could say, "I am good at the writing of wedding invitations." Otherwise, just the gerund. Nothing else.

  • 2
    There are contexts when it's OK. eg "How are you finding journalism?" "I'm good at the writing: it's the research that gets me".
    – Colin Fine
    Feb 6, 2023 at 13:04
  • Aha, good catch. Feb 6, 2023 at 13:06
  • I should have done that earlier. Instead I was being called a stubborn person. Also, a teacher who happens to be a native speaker says this: "I'm good at writing" is used when referring to your ability at this skill in general. However, we can say "I'm good at the writing" (although it less common) when referring to "writing" as a particular part of an exam. Similarly, we can say "I'm good at the listening (part/paper) but I'm not good at the reading and use of English (part/paper)."
    – Ghost
    Feb 6, 2023 at 19:15
  • What do you think?
    – Ghost
    Feb 6, 2023 at 19:15
  • @Ghost - your teacher who is a native speaker was right. The point is that there is some context fairly close. Feb 6, 2023 at 22:54

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