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What’s the difference between 善于 vs 擅长? I know they both mean “being good at” but can they be used interchangeably? When should you use one over the other and why?

For example, how should I say: “I am good at being the director” or “You are good at playing this game”.

Thanks

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善于 = good at (general)

擅长 = skilled in/ good at (specific)

Example:

善于交際 - good at socializing (O)

擅长交際 - skilled in socializing (O)

~

善于打网球 - good at playing tennis (O)

擅长打网球 - skilled in playing tennis (O)

~

善于反手削球 - good at backhand slice (X) (too specific)

擅长反手削球 - skilled in backhand slice (a specific tennis technique) (O)

A more detailed example:

他擅长用斧頭在米粒上刻字 - He is good at lettering on rice grains with an axe

This skill is too specific to use 善于

善于用斧頭 or 善于刻字 would be fine.

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  • I think 擅長 can also used to describe like expertise in specific skills or academics – 高鵬翔 May 18 at 1:13
  • That's right, 擅長 is for more specific skills or expertise. 善于 is for more general term – Tang Ho May 18 at 1:17
  • Thank you for explaining this concept so clearly. This makes a lot of sense! – Nachotruck May 18 at 4:16
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What’s the difference between 善于 vs 擅长?

They are the same.

I know they both mean “being good at” but can they be used interchangeably?

Yes. They can be used interchangeably.

I am good at being the director

(我擅長做一個導演) (我善於做一個導演)

You are good at playing this game

(你擅長玩這個遊戲) (你善於玩這個遊戲)

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