By George


2019-02-11 09:31:58 8 Comments

In the following sentence:

...take a technical test, so your team can determine if I am suitable for the position skills-wise.

Is "skills-wise" legitimate English?

If not, how could I change it to get the same meaning across?

3 comments

@Mitch 2019-02-11 14:29:23

It is a perfectly idiomatic (natural) and productive pattern used in informal English but not common in formal writing.

The parachute deployed at the last moment, a successful trial drama-wise.

'X-wise' acts like an adverb, where X is a noun. It can be translated to 'with respect to X'.

The suffix '-wise' It is being used more and more lately. It can be a little jarring to mix formal and informal registers. Like with any new pattern, it can be used to interesting effect in formal writing, but shouldn't be used too much as it is considered out of place.

The suffix is actually a reuse of the noun version, that is seen in 'in no wise', which is old fashioned. Etymonline comments about this use of 'wise' as

Most common in English now as a word-forming element (as in likewise, clockwise); the adverbial -wise has been used thus since Old English.

The suffix has the feeling to me of sounding old-fashioned, and so I feel like it is being used often in an attempt to sound both erudite (a grammatical way to make an adverb out of a noun) and familiar (an Anglo-Saxon suffix).

As to prevalence (and possible correctness) of 'skills-wise' or 'skillswise', neither appear in a Google Books search, which leads me to believe that it is not accepted as a word by editors. 'Skillswise' is also not recognized by my spellchecker (this is not absolute guarantee of non-wordness; lots of suffixings aren't recognized) but does appear in many titles in a web search, mostly sounding like neologisms. Separating with a hyphen yields few additional hits with a similar feeling.


As to a style choice and your request for an alternative, you could use 'with respect to skills' which is not too formal, or reword to "...if my skills are suitable for the position.", or even ignore it altogether "If I am suitable for the position." because the context already specified technical skills.

@ruakh 2019-02-12 00:02:57

+1. This use of "wise" is quite ancient -- it comes from the Old English genitive of "way" (so "otherwise" : "other way" :: "once" : "one") -- but nowadays it has somehow come to sound informal, outside of specific fixed compounds like "clockwise" and "otherwise" and "pointwise" and so on. (A bit awkwardly, there's some regional variation in which fixed compounds survived -- for example, "elsewise" and "anywise" are found in some regions but not others -- but "skills-wise" is definitely not a survival anywhere!)

@David 2019-02-12 13:39:33

Or you could say it shows a lack of imagination or ability in the use of language. So is that really good advice? If I got a job application like that I know where I'd put it.

@David 2019-02-11 13:48:54

More direct than the accepted answer is:

...take a technical test so you can tell whether I have the skills for the job.

You could keep “team” “determine” and “position”, if you have to, but I thought I’d give an example of simple direct English.

Oh, and “Skills-wise” is an abomination.

@Shashin Bhayani 2019-02-11 09:59:56

You can change the sentence to

...take a technical test, so your team can determine if my skills are suitable for the position.

According to me, skill-wise is not appropriate English.

@David Richerby 2019-02-11 15:19:50

OK but we're looking for what the English-speaking world as a whole thinks about "skills-wise", not your personal opinion.

@ruakh 2019-02-11 23:52:25

Note: Native English speakers never say "according to me", because "according to" is used in explaining why you think something; it makes no sense to say that you led yourself to think it. Rather, you mean "In my opinion", or "I feel that", or "If you ask me".

@Kevin 2019-02-12 04:36:32

This answer is just flat-out wrong and should not be the accepted answer

@BoldBen 2019-02-12 12:16:41

@ruakh English native speakers do say that all the time. It's rather more common to say "According to him/her/them" than "According to me/you" but "According to me" is said. The fact that, technically, it might be incorrect doesn't prevent its being used in this way.

@ruakh 2019-02-12 16:56:22

@BoldBen: Are you serious? Where are you from? (I'm from the U.S.)

@ruakh 2019-02-12 19:03:17

@BoldBen: Also, to confirm: are you saying that people in your area use it the way that Shashin Bhayani used it in this answer? (Like, after reading this answer, did you think that Shashin Bhayani might be a native speaker?)

@BoldBen 2019-02-12 21:04:49

I don't know whether he's a native speaker or not. I'm just saying that British people frequently use "according to me/you/him/her/them" in exactly the way that that he did.

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