able vs ible
Able and -ible are two suffixes that are very commonly used to complete words in English language. However, these are also suffixes that create confusion in the minds of non natives. Though people conversant in English never have to look at the rules, to make use of the appropriate suffix, there are basic rules that differentiate between words that are used with either of the suffixes. Let us take a closer look.
In English, there are hundreds of words ending in either able or ible making it difficult for people to remember which of the either spelling is right. The point to remember is that most Latin roots are completed with ible. Another rule that is simpler to remember is that when the root in itself is a complete word making sense, it is the suffix able that is used while when the root is complex and does not make a word in itself, ible is the suffix that is used. Let us understand with the help of examples.
Take the case of words like comfort, depend, afford, wash etc. It can be seen that these are complete English words, and by adding able in the end of these words, we make new words indicating ability of the person or object. So, the new word comfortable can be used for a fabric, car, or any other gadget used by us. Similarly washable indicates the ability of a jacket, jeans, shirt or any other garment to be washed in a washing machine. This is also the suffix that is used for all new words that get added to dictionary with each passing year.
As explained earlier, ible is the suffix that is used in the end of the words that are Latin or do not make a complete word in themselves. There are a few exceptions to this rule; for example, suggestible, flexible, digestible etc. Once you take the suffix away, the root will not be a complete word making sense in most of the cases. For example, gullible, possible, visible, terrible, credible, fallible, tangible, etc.
What is the difference between able and ible?
• -able is the suffix that when added to a word implies Can Do.
• When this suffix is removed, the root is a standalone word.
• -ible is mostly used with Latin roots that do not make a complete word in themselves.