In a very informal style in the vernacular of my native language, I could use such a structure (below). Does it sound natural in English?

How are you with (a noun phrase)?

Some quotes from COCA:

And the woman said to me, " How are you with the sight of blood? Are you good with blood?

I'm a bit tired of trying to get into the heads of Dragonists. How are you with the dragon? " " I'm a bit short on inspiration

" How are you with puzzles? " Leaphorn said, and found himself surprised as he ...

" So, " she says. " How are you with children? " # The question takes me aback.

Your grandkids would be black. That's how it is, in America. How are you with that? " " Is she pregnant? " " No

Some quotes from the Web:

How are you with writing letters?

How are you with writing fight scenes?

How are you with writing songs?" Carlos said at a mile a minute.

1 Answer 1


Yes, this is a perfectly valid and natural-sounding construction in English.

As you probably know, it basically means "how well can you handle the process of dealing with (noun)?" or "how well can you perform the task of (gerund-phrase)?"

  • 2
    Yes, but I think for most contexts, at is (slightly) more appropriate. That's because it's at least possible to interpret "How are you with [activity]?" as meaning "What do you think of/do you approve of [activity]?", but at unambiguously asks about your skill/ability in regard to that activity. For that reason, I think it would be preferable always to use at unless a different sense is intended, although in practice many people don't (always) recognize/adhere to that convention. Nov 5, 2014 at 23:31
  • ...after all, we can surely imagine some grouchy old killjoy sourpuss who deplores idle amusements in general. And you could reasonably ask him such a question intending to contest the anticipated answer "They're a self-indulgent waste of time" by pointing out that puzzle-solving is often endorsed by psychologists these days as a way of maintaining one's mental faculties in old age (so as to facilitate doing other things the grumpy ole man might approve of). Nov 5, 2014 at 23:38
  • +1,+1 Thanks for the answer and for the insights. Google's first suggest hit ="how are you at multitasking"
    – learner
    Nov 6, 2014 at 0:24
  • @FumbleFingers, on the other hand, "how are you at kids?" sounds weird and disturbing. :-) Perhaps "with (noun)" and "at (gerund-phrase of activity)".
    – Hellion
    Nov 6, 2014 at 2:43
  • I see overtones of have fun by/with myself. I don't know if there's a "rule of thumb" for when to use with and when to use at or by, but in both cases the potential downside of getting it wrong includes totally unwanted innuendo. Nov 6, 2014 at 13:57

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