tl;dr: What is a less extreme (but still noticeable) alternative to the word "fluent", when saying e.g. "I am fluent in C++/Python/whatever?"

I think I can call myself "fluent" in C#, because I know the language and runtime very well, and I'm very familiar with the .NET framework's APIs and classes, etc.

I would like to claim the same thing for Python and C++. But while I can program in Python (I did so for an entire summer, making a website with Django), for example, I would not call myself fluent because my code isn't always "Pythonic" (e.g. using map/filter vs. list comprehensions), and I'm not too intimate with some aspects of the language and standard library yet (e.g. the introspection API, etc.).

Is there a word or phrase I can use on e.g. a resume to describe what I know?

I can think of "very familiar with", but is there a better word/phrase I can use?

  • of course most people grade themselves as a 7/10 regardless of their actual competency in a subject, I'd expect most interviewers to know this
    – jk.
    Sep 6, 2011 at 8:37
  • @jk.: lol, really? Is this another "45.6% of statistics are made up on the spot", or is there a citation for this? I actually think I'd rate myself 9/10 on some subjects and 3/10 on others...
    – user541686
    Sep 6, 2011 at 9:15
  • can't find one for IT but i'd say this is relevant ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3116466
    – jk.
    Sep 6, 2011 at 9:46
  • 1
    Conversant means capable but less than fluent. See my answer to At what point can I say I've “learned” a language? for a little more detail, but in short: use the same terms you'd use to describe proficiency in a natural language.
    – Caleb
    Dec 18, 2012 at 17:21

4 Answers 4


Would "proficient" be useful, if not that, "competent". Both words suggesting a comfort with tasks given within a certain range.

  • Oooh yeah they both sound great, I was totally blanking out! Thanks! +1
    – user541686
    Sep 5, 2011 at 20:50
  • 3
    Unless you think that "competent" applies in your situation but "proficient" doesn't, I'd recommend "proficient" over "competent".
    – compman
    Sep 5, 2011 at 23:19
  • @compman: Yeah I agree, I was also going to use "proficient"; thanks!
    – user541686
    Sep 5, 2011 at 23:39

If you are referring to a natural spoken language, one step down from fluent would be "conversant", such as "Fluent in French, conversant in Spanish."

For programming languages, I usually write something like: "Very experienced in C and C++, familiar with Python and C#". But I agree with Irwin that "proficient" seems to be one step below "fluent", so maybe it goes: fluent --> proficient --> familiar.


These are the terms I usually see in real application forms that allow you to pick it from a list:

  • Competent
  • Skilled
  • Experienced
  • Good
  • Full working capacity/capability

I'd say you are comfortable using the language. That does not imply you are an expert.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.