Amble vs. Ample

By Maeve Maddox

I came across this comment in a review on the Amazon site:

I am too stocked up on my own books to be able to accept any books for review at this time as I’d wanted to give amble time reading if I accepted them for an honest review.

I know as well as anyone how easy it is for typos to slip into our writing, so I cruised the web to see if this is a common misuse of the word amble in a context that calls for ample.

Judging by these examples from the Web, writing amble for ample is not always a typo:

The retreat, with amble time for self discovery, meditation, and guided movement, allowed me to get clarity on the life I wanted.

Showing up early for your flight ensures that you’ll have amble time to go through security and relax if you’re nervous about flying.

Be sure to leave yourselves amble time to hear each other’s perspectives and come up with some options.

Some of these examples come from English-challenged commenters, but several are from sites one would expect to be well edited, including a writing site dedicated to providing tips and resources for writers.

These writers may be hearing the p in ample as a b and, unfamiliar with the word amble, never bothered to check the spelling in a dictionary.

amble (noun): a slow, leisurely pace; a term to describe a type of horse’s gait.

amble (verb): walk slowly

Examples:
The campers took an evening amble along the beach.
The ambling horse allowed for an easy ride, less tiring on the rider than other gaits.
I ambled down the sidewalk in no hurry to reach my destination.

The word ample is an adjective meaning “broad, wide, spacious, extending far and wide.” This is the word to use in the expression that means “plenty of time.”

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5 Responses to “Amble vs. Ample”

  • John

    “I am too stocked up on my own books to be able to accept any books for review at this time as I’d wanted [??]to give amble time reading if I accepted them for an honest review.”

  • Nancy R.

    People who mistakenly write “amble” for ample” and “ever sense” for “ever since” need to read more, and to read well-written books. It is understandable that a listener will confuse similar sounding words. We can’t write words by sound alone. We need to READ them in context.

  • Victoria

    This person reads a lot of books, apparently. It is probably safe to assume that he or she, like almost everybody, knows the difference between “amble” and “ample.” My guess is that it was an auto-correct error or was dictated and not proofed for errors. There is a lot of that going around these days.

    I don’t think this is worthy of your “Daily Writing Tips.”

  • Ian Webster

    “Showing up early for your flight ensures that you’ll have amble time to go through security and relax if you’re nervous about flying.”
    I think that is a marvellous use of “amble” as an adjective.
    Not to be encouraged, of course, but secretly admired.

  • Nancy R.

    Good point, Ian. Some amble time at the airport would useful for stretching cramped legs.

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