Are You Able?

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Two common suffixes in English are ‘-able’ and ‘-ible’. It is sometimes difficult to know which one to use. -able descends from the Latin ‘abilis’ and has resulted in the formation of words such as capable, amiable and favorable, as well as many other English formations.

The suffix is also in wide use because of its association with the word able, and has resulted in many word formations similar to drinkable (able to be drunk).

Often added to words of English or French origin, -able is used much more widely than -ible. However, there are still about a hundred common words that take -ible, including: accessible, admissible, audible, convertible, credible, digestible, discernible, edible, eligible, fallible, feasible, forcible, gullible, horrible, intelligible, legible, negligible, perceptible, permissible, plausible, possible, responsible, susceptible, tangible, terrible and visible.

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8 thoughts on “Are You Able?”

  1. And don’t forget “irreducible”. After missing it in the 1976 National Spelling Bee, I sure haven’t!

    Thank you all for a wonderful website. Best wishes for a successful 2008!

  2. I hear you there; the word I misspelled was pharoah. Will never forget to put in the a again as long as I live, that is for sure.

  3. Boy, back to class but I’m enjoying these great tips. It will definitely help me with writing effectively and coherently. Have a blessed and successful 2008 and beyond!


  4. Amy,
    I’m afraid you’ve done it again! The spelling is pharaoh.
    The word contains the name of the Egyptian god Ra. That’s how I remember it.

  5. I was in the 1976 National Spelling Bee too! I spelled quatrefoil correctly, but missed fibrositis.

    – another Amy

  6. I was in the 1976 bee, too 🙂 the word I missed on was “mytacism” :p. Amy, Renee: I do remember some of the other contestants but I don’t place the two of you offhand by just first names. If you want to email me privately or leave a message on my webpage,, I’d just like to refresh my memories 🙂

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