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I was just reminded on another site that "being good at something" is expressed as [上手]{じょうず}/[上手]{うま}い, not いい. How do you tell someone they "have gotten better at something"? Xさん, 料理することがもっと上手いですね。 would be my thought. Is that right? Would that be the way a native would say it? Is that even how a textbook would word it?

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up vote 13 down vote accepted

You can use なる (to become) to indicate change, as follows:

うまくなる (い-adjective, い->く)
上手になる (な-adjective + に)

These both mean "to become good/skilled".

Then for "to become more skilled" you can use もっと, さらに or 前より:

もっと上手になる to become better
さらに上手になる to become even better
前より上手になる to become better than before

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  • うまい can be written with the same kanji as [上]{じょう}[手]{ず}: [上手]{うま}い.

  • As you have in your English phrase, the natural way to say it in Japanese is to use "have gotten" or "become", which is なる in Japanese, as ジョン answers.

  • Alternatively, it is possible to stick with or です as in your answer using もっと, but in that case, the standard for comparison is not clear enough without explicit mentioning. It can be taken that you are comparing with someone else. You need to add a phrase like 前より or 以前より to indicate that the comparison is along time. Then, you do not necessarily need もっと as comparison would be expressed by such phrase.

  • But more importantly, こと cannot be used in this combination.

 料理が(前より(もっと)) {上手だ/上手い/上手になった/上手くなった}
 料理するのが(前より(もっと)) {上手だ/上手い/上手になった/上手くなった}
* 料理することが(前より(もっと)) {上手だ/上手い/上手になった/上手くなった}

If you are using 得意 "be good at", then using こと is not as bad.

料理が得意だ
料理するのが得意だ 
料理することが得意だ

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What's the difference between no and koto? From what I understand, they serve the same function. Do they not? –  dotnetN00b Jun 18 '12 at 21:10
    
No they are different. I was expecting someone will ask this, and finally, you asked. It could be an independent question. –  sawa Jun 18 '12 at 23:20
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Well I will ask independently then :) –  dotnetN00b Jun 19 '12 at 0:12
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The simplest way of saying "you've gotten better" is 上手になりました. A lot of the time you hear after that :)

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