When you tutor English, you still need to discuss spelling – believe it or not.
When I was a kid, I often wondered which words were “ible” and which were “able”. In time, I realized that I used more “able” words than “ible” ones. “Able”, I reasoned, made much more sense anyway: If you are “able” to do something, you can do it. “Ible”, by itself, has no meaning.
Every once and a while, though, an –ible word would show itself. Possible, of course, was familiar; later, in grade 4, I met edible. In quiet times I wondered if a system existed that would tell you when to use -ible vs -able.
Like so many of my school-age ponderings, my quest for an explanation of when to use –ible vs -able faded away. It was gradually replaced by an acceptance that both endings had their places. You could check the dictionary if you weren’t sure; otherwise, like so many other things about English, you just “had to know.”
I’ve put together a list of some -ible words for your amusement:
- indelible: permanent. A laundry marker is indelible.
- gullible: easily fooled.
Of course, with spell checkers, some people argue the –ible vs -able issue is academic. Maybe they’re right….
The changes between 1980 and 1990 were incredible.
Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.