For instance:

It requires a _____ level of understanding to work on X,Y and Z.

I'm looking for a word that is slightly less than in-depth but more than normal. It is to be used in a work/business setting.

A certain level seems ambiguous.

A substantial level sounds odd.

A moderate level appears average.

Any other suitable words other than basic, intermediate and advanced level?

Is level of limiting the choice of word?

  • I think the sentence could work without 'level of'.
    – Balaz2ta
    Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 8:49
  • 1
    There is a tension here between the title and the body of the question. The title naturally leads one to think of the words like moderate, average, normal, while it appears that what is sought is a term for something that is not only above superficial, but also above average, that, is a term for something that is in the upper half of the scale of possibilities (but below its top).
    – jsw29
    Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 16:02
  • 1
    Why do you believe that substantial sounds odd?
    – jsw29
    Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 16:04
  • Could you please leave a comment explaining why several suggestions do not fit. IN the question itself; could you say what X,Y, Z is? Is it do with programming or mechanics? Is it for a job description?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 6:52
  • Did you consider "adequate"?
    – Davo
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 12:34

7 Answers 7


You've got a really wide range of adjectives to work with there, depending on whether you're willing to paraphrase a little.

Since we're talking about comprehension of a subject you could say:

A highly familiar level of understanding...

An adept level of understanding to work on...

A strong grasp of the concept of...

This work requires an existing level of insight...

It will require a fair degree of expertise to work on.... (where expertise can be modified with 'a high amount', 'a moderate amount', etc.)

  • The OP probably accepted this answer because it contains the words that she can adapt to her purposes, but several of the formulations that are proposed here are rather odd. A 'highly familiar level of understanding' could be very low; what is wanted is presumably high familiarity with the subject matter. Adept normally qualifies a person, not a level. A level of insight can exist and still be very low.
    – jsw29
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 15:32
  • How could a 'highly familiar level of understanding be very low? I like A strong grasp of the concept Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 8:19
  • @Jalene, suppose that somebody doesn't understand the stuff in question at all, and that the people around him have, over time, seen ample evidence of his failure to understand it. In that case, it can be said that his very low level of understanding is highly familiar to those around him.
    – jsw29
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 23:05

I would use intermediate:

1 : being or occurring at the middle place, stage, or degree or between extremes

In the example sentence, you might have a basic level of understanding and an advanced level of understanding. But in relation to the particular task:

It requires an intermediate level of understanding to work on X, Y, and Z.

  • This answers the question that appears in the title; the body of the question however shows that the OP is looking for something that is above the midpoint of the scale of possibilities, and only slightly below in-depth.
    – jsw29
    Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 16:19
  • @jsw29 You are right. The title seems to suggest intermediate level. Thankfully, the body content provides clarity. Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 7:10

If you're not an expert but, you can get the job done, we say: "You have a working knowledge of X,Y and Z. US

  • At the time I answered this question, it was before it had been edited to suggest that level of wasn't necessarily a requirement—and so I picked the word that I thought best fit into that phrasing. But if we are able to remove level of, as well as the following understanding, then this is a good answer too. (Although you might want to provide a reference or two for its usage.) Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 14:33

As in:

It requires a modicum of understanding to work on X,Y and Z.


a moderate or limited amount

  • 1
    Modicum would normally be understood to mean that the level is below the average, while the OP is looking for a term for a level that is above the average.
    – jsw29
    Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 16:06
  • @jsw29 modicum = moderate, and is apropos.
    – lbf
    Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 16:25
  • 1
    M-W gives a small portion : a limited quantity. OED mentions 'limited': it means 'not very much', 'a little bit'.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 12:43
  • @Mitch OED mentions moderate too.
    – lbf
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 12:50
  • 1
    @lbf Consult a number of other dictionaries and you'll see that modicum is a small amount. OED is using 'moderate' here to mean 'on the smaller side'. 'moderate' (like all words) has many meanings and nuances. Sometimes moderate means 'in the middle', sometimes it is 'not much'. Pairing with 'limited' implies the 'not much' reading. This is all to say if you want a word for medium amount, then modicum' is not it.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 13:46

I would eliminate "level" and replace it with "amount", "understanding" or the subject itself.

  1. It requires a significant amount of understanding to work on X,Y and Z.
  2. Have (the necessary) experience with/in X,Y and Z,... .
     ... must be experienced with X,Y and Z.
  3. It requires knowing the basics of X,Y, and Z.


1. sufficiently great or important to be worthy of attention; noteworthy.

1.1 The knowledge or skill acquired by a period of practical experience of something, especially that gained in a particular profession.

1. (informal) the essential facts or principles of a subject or skill.

Definitions from Lexico (formerly Oxford Dictionaries)

  • 1
    Phrases like fair understanding and understanding the basics are likely to be confusing, because they are sometimes used euphemistically for rather low levels of understanding, even though that is not their literal meaning.
    – jsw29
    Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 16:14
  • @jsw29 please support your affirmation that the terms in the answer are "likely to be confusing" in a formal business context, as specified by the OP.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 16:24
  • 1
    If a letter of recommendation said that the candidate for a job has a fair understanding of something relevant to the job, or that the candidate understands the basics of it, would you hire that person?
    – jsw29
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 0:35
  • @jsw29 ...would you hire that person? I might very well do if the person applying was someone between 18 and 21 years old. Besides please read the question title, the OP was looking for a word that describes having a knowledge somewhere between superficial and in-depth. But looking at the question more closely, I see that the OP specifies that they want a word that is slightly less than in-depth.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 5:29
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA You are right that I am looking for a word that is slightly less than in-depth. Fair and basics suggest a level of understanding that is below normal, maybe on an amateur level. Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 7:01

How about a "developed level of understanding"

Via Google:

de·vel·oped /dəˈveləpt/ adjective advanced or elaborated to a specified degree.

This to me says something more than basic, but not necessarily advanced.


I would suggest the Word "Optimum" for this Instance.

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