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I've always wanted to know if we are "comfortable in English" or "comfortable with English". I have searched quite a few websites but none are helpful when it comes to suggesting a preposition for speaking in a language.

  • A quick check with Ngram suggests that both prepositions are commonly used. books.google.com/ngrams/… - books.google.com/ngrams/… – user66974 Aug 26 '17 at 9:58
  • I'm comfortable in this chair is a "literal" utterance meaning that I find sitting in this chair physically comfortable (because it eases my backache, for example). I'm comfortable with this chair is a more "metaphoric" alternative, usually implying that I'm content to continue using this chair. That second version often occurs when turning down an alternative offering, and needn't imply anything about physical comfort at all. For example, judge rejecting an appeal I've considered your case carefully, but I'm comfortable with my original verdict (= I have no qualms). – FumbleFingers Aug 26 '17 at 13:15
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Lingohelp gives a corpus-based overview of the idiomaticity of 'comfortable with' and 'comfortable in'. One of the examples is spot-on:

So, I am more comfortable with Hindi than I am with Tamil.

However, a lot of the 'comfortable in' examples seem to involve locative prepositional phrases such as 'I felt comfortable in their house', which skew the overall picture. Raw data doesn't really reflect the actual frequency of occurrence of the colligation 'comfortable in'. That said, the popular choice is 'comfortable with', and it would be my choice here (for the bald statement, with no context).

I'd possibly choose 'I'm comfortable in English ...' if someone asked 'Would you prefer to continue this conversation in German?', so I don't think either choice is unacceptable per se.

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