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Words ending -able or -ible

These endings are found in adjectives that usually mean ‘able to be …’ For example:

available: able to be used or obtained

audible: able to be heard

breakable: able to be broken

visible: able to be seen

 

Words ending in -able

As a general rule, there are a lot more adjectives ending in -able but here are some tips to help you make the right choice:

  • When a word ends in -able, the main part of the word (i.e., the bit that comes before the -able ending) is usually a complete word in itself. For example: bearable (from bear), readable, (from read), and acceptable (from accept). This is also true when the base word ends in an e that's dropped before the -able ending is added (e.g., advise, advisable or inflate, inflatable) or where it ends in a consonant that's doubled when the ending is added (e.g., forget, forgettable or regret, regrettable).
  • If the main part of the word ends with a ‘hard’ c (pronounced like the c in cab) or a ‘hard’ g (pronounced like the g in game) then the ending is always -able. For example: amicable or navigable.

Here are some common words that end in -able:

peaceable; debatable; pleasurable; adaptable; inimitable; capable; adorable; desirable; justifiable; preferable; disposable; knowledgeable; amiable; durable; laughable; fashionable; reliable; excitable; lovable; believable; excusable; manageable; serviceable; measurable; noticeable; suitable; changeable; tolerable; objectionable; comfortable; payable; impressionable; conceivable; operable; transferable.

Words ending in -ible

  • When a word ends in -ible, it's less likely that the part before the ending will be a recognizable English word. Take permissible or audible, for example: ‘permiss’ and ‘aud’ are not English words.
  • This is only a guideline and there are exceptions to the general principle. For example, accessible and collapsible both end in -ible even though they are formed from the recognizable words access and collapse.

Here are some  common words ending in -ible:

illegible; responsible; eligible; incredible; reversible; invincible; suggestible; contemptible; feasible; negligible; susceptible; convertible; flexible; ostensible; tangible; gullible; terrible; horrible; plausible.

            

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Grammar and usage