What is a more decent/formal alternative for the word suck? I want to use it in the context of being bad at something.

To be precise, I want to translate "To suck less at a job every day" to formal English.

  • 5
    If your purpose is to use this for a CV, you should cast things in a positive, not negative, light. Even a negative construction phrased in acceptable formal English — say, "to be less awful at a job every day" — would be a red flag to recruiters. @AndrewLeach got it right when he told you to turn it around with a positive verb like improve. I suggest you try to focus on the bigger picture here.
    – Robusto
    Jul 15, 2012 at 12:31
  • 1
    The formal synonym for suck is fellate, albeit perhaps not in quite the sense you mean here. :)
    – tchrist
    Jul 15, 2012 at 15:25

2 Answers 2


I think you just used it. Any alternative is going to depend on exactly where you are using the phrase. A CV will need a different expression from chatting to your mother.

I'm bad at ...
I'm not all that good at ...
I find it difficult to ...
I can't ... for toffee.

If I tried to arrange flowers it would end up looking like a hedge.

To suck less is to improve:

Every day, I want to improve at ...
I'd like to get better at ...
I'm working at becoming more proficient in ...

  • to be precise I want to translate "To suck less at a job everyday" to a formal English, yes for a CV like document.
    – Umer Hayat
    Jul 15, 2012 at 12:12

You should be more careful because what you're writing is a CV and not just any story.

Basically, what you would like to say is that you suck but you are a "fast-learner."

Like you said, "I suck less at a job every day."

Now, the problem is how to word it because the expression "fast-learner" or "quick-learner" is actually a kind of cliche in CV writing.

You could say:

"Positive attitude with ability to adapt to new challenges."


"Enthusiastic, knowledge-hungry learner, eager to meet challenges and quickly assimilate new concepts."


"Succeeded in only _ months to educate myself in _ areas."

The last one is actually an example of how you can "show" and not "tell" that you are indeed a fast-learner.

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