Many people are not able to receive much required psychological care
Many people are unable to receive much required psychological care

I'm trying to proofread a friend's work.

Is there a discernible difference to you between the above two sentences? I feel that 'unable' sounds more natural, but on the other hand, sounds like there is a slight element of blame.

I wonder if 'not able' is something objective whereas 'unable' denotes an intrinsic or inherent inability.

The child is unable to walk
The child is not able to walk

  • 1
    Somehow, to me not able to sounds more like a temporary state, as if it implies not currently able to or was not able to at the time, whereas unable to sounds more permanent. But I can't explain why. – uhoh Jul 12 '17 at 4:51
  • This doesn't answer your question, but I think that "much required" would be better written as "much needed". I would write it as either "required care" or "much needed care". I see "much needed" more often in this context, so it seems more natural to me. The Google Ngram for 'much required' and 'much needed' seems to support that. – ColleenV parted ways Jul 12 '17 at 16:35

"un-" is a prefix that means "not" , "the contrary of", "absence of quality". Both sentences mean the same . However, the word "unable" is easier to pronounce with the tongue for some people, which might be understood as a more natural wording.

The more precise connotations and nuances that you want to convey around that sentence can only be expressed with more context, just like you did with your own question. People can't read your mind, but they can read what you write.

Thus, they are many possible reasons why the child can not walk which are the same exact reasons why the child is unable to walk. The condition might be temporal or inherent, but some people will not know the answer until you provide more context . That's something that can't be clarified with just the difference between "unable" and "not able" .

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