Vocabulary: some “-ibles”

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:

  1. convertible
  2. indelible:  permanent.  A laundry marker is indelible.
  3. defensible
  4. feasible
  5. collectible
  6. inexhaustible
  7. gullible:  easily fooled.
  8. credible
  9. corruptible
  10. reprehensible

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.

Leave a Reply