I was wondering if I can use "is not the best around" in conjunction with language skills, but some mild googling gave me no results for languages like German or French (in a context where I'd probably expect a native English speaker to use such a sentence construct), but on the other hand there are plenty results for "My English is not the best around" which obviously stems from non-native speakers.

This makes me assume that saying "My English isn't the best around" is probably wrong, but I'd like to know why exactly.

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    As a native AmE speaker, this sounds perfectly fine. If it's unusual, it's because someone who was not very confident in speaking English would probably content themselves with saying "My English is not the best". Adding that single word 'around' transforms the phrase to an idiom that a non-confident speaker could only stumble upon by accident, transforming the meaning from "my English could be better" to "there are people around who speak English better than I do". Mar 26, 2014 at 8:33
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    This sounds very natural, even colloquial.
    – Mitch
    Mar 26, 2014 at 16:53
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    Ironically, it is more how someone with good English skills would express it than someone with poor skills.
    – Oldcat
    Mar 26, 2014 at 20:31
  • Lol good one Oldcat. By the way Haris, you also often leave off the last "around". So, you can say "Sorry, my English is not the best!" That's probably more "modern."
    – Fattie
    Mar 27, 2014 at 8:35

3 Answers 3


This makes me assume that saying "My English isn't the best around" is probably wrong, but I'd like to know why exactly.

There is nothing wrong with the phrase. The reason you will only hear non-native speakers using it is because native speakers nearly always consider their English to be excellent in comparison to their peers.


It also depends whether you are putting an object after the 'around' or not? If you are saying "My English is not the best around." you are using an idiom where around means 'around here'.

If you are using 'around' with an object, to mean 'concerning', you are still OK, but might be better off with other constructions like 'when it comes to'. A phrase like "My English is not the best, when it comes to choosing prepositions." sounds better to natives.


Using "My English is not the best around." is not wrong it's just more complicated than it needs to be.

My Irish colleague and other native English speakers use the phrase "please excuse my French" (after cursing) or simply use shorter, less complex sentences to transmit the same meaning.

Your sentence sounds a lot like somebody from eastern Europe would use. They are basically using their native grammar with a foreign language.

Please excuse my (bad) German. I have only had it for some time during school. Would be something that sounds like a native speaker would say. Splitting the reason from the effect into two sentences vs. yours where both are clustered into one.

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    I don't find anything in "My English is not the best around" that suggests Eastern Europe (in fact, the reverse, because most Eastern European languages do not have articles corresponding to "the"). On the contrary, as Neil de Baudrap says in a comment, this is informal, idiomatic English.
    – Colin Fine
    Mar 26, 2014 at 11:38
  • How is it complicated? It's an utterly common, extremely clear, short, absolutely commonplace figure of speech.
    – Fattie
    Mar 27, 2014 at 8:33
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    Note that "excuse my french" is a humorous way to comment on swearing, and has utterly no connection in any way to what the OP asked. Regarding "eastern Europe", I just don't see that in the slightest.
    – Fattie
    Mar 27, 2014 at 8:34

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