If one were to suggest that they had

"...strong documentation, collaborative, and communication skills."

My first thought is that it's a bit more awkward than saying "...collaboration...skills".

It seems that collaborative is and adjective, and a misfit for that sentence. But is this an inappropriate usage of the word "collaborative"?

  • "...strong documentation, collaborative and communication skills." Just remove the comma. Means you are adept at collaborating, as well as communicating.
    – user98990
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 22:56
  • Thanks Little Eva. In this case, I'm not trying to craft a proper sentence, but understand why the given one is/isn't technically correct.
    – Joe
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 15:55
  • Because the "comma" after "collaborative" differentiates collaborative from "skills," when what you actually want is to indicate your skill in collaborating with others AND your skill at communication.
    – user98990
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 16:02

1 Answer 1


Your suspicions are right. Collaborative is an adjective, and in the phrase collaborative skills, it is describing the quality of the skills (in the vein of new skills, useful skills etc). Basically, you're saying your skills like to collaborate, whatever that might mean.

What you need is a compound noun. Go with collaboration skills.

The difference between collaborative skills (skills that are collaborative) and collaboration skills (skills of collaboration) can be compared to the difference between a fit instructor (instructor who is fit) and a fitness instructor(instructor of fitness)

  • 1
    Kinda frustrating someone down-voted without explaining why. The answer is articulate and seemingly accurate. Sure would be nice to know if it's wrong in some way.
    – Joe
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 15:52
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    Users down-vote for different reasons---some DVs are implicit criticism of the post, other DVs ... just because. I try to use DVs as criticism and re-check my post. If nothing appears wrong about the post, I figure the DV is just "because" and ignore it as something beyond my control.
    – user98990
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 16:08
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    @Area51DetectiveFiction Huh! Glad you @-pinged me. Hadn't read the comments before. I also didn't realize people used collaborative skills this way; my conception was the same as yours (the one in your answer). It still whiffs of business jargon (or I guess education jargon?) to me, so I'm not likely to adopt it myself any time soon. And Eva, I'm happy to play Gilligan if it means I get to spend a little quality time with Mary Anne.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 20:46
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    @LittleEva: Thanks a lot. Since you like poetry, I must mention here that Hindi/Urdu has some of the best poetry in the world. The language is ideal for writing poems in (better than English, I daresay). If you can learn one second language, choose this one.
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented May 9, 2015 at 6:36
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    @LittleEva: Btw, I forgot to mention yesterday that Tagore wrote not in Hindi but in Bangla (or Bengali), another kick-ass Indian language with lots of great poetry and literature. In fact his b'day was May 7, a few days ago. Some people celebrate that here.
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented May 10, 2015 at 19:42

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