I was wondering if you could let me know which one of the listed choices fits better in my self-made sentence below:

CEO to the applicants of achieving a job: In order to get this job, you must first prove your potentials and demonstrate us your good customers service skills. You must be able to effectively communicate over the phone.

Applicants pass their tests and then the CEO asks the examiner: How was the guy in blue shirt?

The examiner answers: Awful; I could easily see his _______ with my own eyes even before beginning of the contest.

  1. incapabilities

  2. inabilities

For me, both work here properly, but they differ the meaning of the sentence. Do you confirm it?

  • 2
    I don't much like incapabilities, and inabilities is just a complete non-starter. You could use, say, shortcomings, but I suggest you forget about pluralising his deficiencies anyway and go for something like incompetence or lack of ability. Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 16:10
  • I'd go with "inadequacies" to indicate that there is a standard that the candidate fails to meet.
    – mstorkson
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 17:47

2 Answers 2


The examiner answers: Awful; I could easily see his a) incapabilit(y) with my own eyes even before (the) beginning of the contest.

b) inabilit(y) could be properly used in this sentence, just as you say. But I would even so have used the word incapability.

There is a slight difference in the two words meaning:

Inability: the condition of not being able to do something or the lack of ability

Incapable: not able to do something or not capable

Compare the difference with these examples:

she has shown an inability to concentrate

the inability of the government to cope with the problem


hired a supremely incapable assistant who only made a mess of things


My spell checker flags "incapabilities" as not in the dictionary (even though it is) so you should probably avoid that one since it sounds awkward. "Inabilities" is a better word, although in this context it's still clumsy.

"Lack of ability" is more idiomatic. It's also less harsh since it implies that he has some ability, just not sufficient ability to meet your criteria.

Other possibilities: "lack of competence", "inability" (singular), "incompetence". "ineptitude".

Also in some cases saying someone "lacks experience", or "is inexperienced" is a nice way to imply lack of ability, since it implies that they might gain ability with more training. In a business context, it's important to know how to say these kind of things without causing offense.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .