Suppose I participate in a basketball game with my friends. I do not play as well as usual. Can I explain to them:

Sorry, I am not in the good state

Will the audience naturally take it to mean that now I am not in the good state in which I can play basketball well? Does it make sense to say that I can be in several possible states, in some of them I can play well in others play badly?

  • My game is not up to scratch – mplungjan Mar 25 '14 at 10:19
  • "I'm not playing up to snuff" – barrycarter Mar 25 '14 at 14:26

You can say that you have not played for a long time or you don't play well anymore. Saying that you are not in a good state suggests that you might not be feeling well enough to play. That is not what you meant to say.

  • 2
    Or that you're in Arizona... zing! – barrycarter Mar 25 '14 at 14:27

If talking about your ability to do something, you use a not the.

I am not in a good state to play basketball today [I am not fit enough]
I am not in a good state to go to the meeting [My father just died and I'm too upset to deal with people]

It can also be used as a positive:

I've had lots of physio and now I'm in a good state to play.

'I am not in the state' implies you are not geographically located in a particular state, eg Florida

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