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When I started learning Chinese, my language partner (from Taiwan) taught me that the phrase 很會 can be used to indicate ability. I don’t use it all the time, because in Chinese there are alternatives such as:

小姐文字寫的很清秀。

But sometimes an expression such as 很會 comes in handy because you don’t need to know the associated verb. Such a case would be:

學妹很會甌繡。

Now it has happened a few times that people say 很會 sounds strange. I opted to replace it with 善於,工於,長於,but it seems people don’t immediately understand me (perhaps because these expressions are too literary as compared to the overall level of my Chinese).

Is 很會 regional or slang? What should I pay attention to, when replacing it with 工於,善於,長於? Are these limited to set phrases? Which of these last three is most universally applicable?

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    善於,長於 are more literary; 很會 is more colloquial , they all mean "good at; skilled in" ; "工於" is not commonly used , you see it mostly as a part of the phrase "工於心計" – Tang Ho Dec 14 '17 at 19:38
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"很會" emerged in modern time, used in vernacular chinese. imo, it's ok in most usages, just plain dull :(

well, to enrich your vocabulary, here're some alternatives:

閑熟

况及今刷選得人﹒猶須按舊制演習禮儀﹒非數月不能閑熟﹒比及閑熟﹒两宫已告成矣

我何人斯又能閑熟六藝﹒以求全儒林之宗旨哉

閑熟六藝 is roughly "skilled at six arts"

精, 究

有究韜略精武藝者

究韜略 is roughly "good at strategy"

精武藝 is roughly "skilled in martial arts"

丞相達之妹善畫﹒巧妙無雙

roughly "the sister of prime minister was good at drawing"

have fun :)

  • These are interesting! What is the purpose of 達 in the last example sentence? – Ludi Dec 15 '17 at 22:26
  • @Ludi I believe that's prime minister's first name. – NS.X. Dec 15 '17 at 23:08
  • yes, it's his name. btw, last one is quoted from 拾遺記 卷八. – 水巷孑蠻 Dec 16 '17 at 5:15
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很会&很is similar. but "很会" is usually used before a verb, such as 她很会做饭(she is good at cooking). "很" always used before a adjective,such as 她很美(she is beautiful.)

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