The best way to cut it short and still convey your message is adding -able to any verb.

Yeah, it's doable - I considered all risks, resources to be used, my endurance, budget and the like.


I know you cannot sleep with any disturbance around. And, I have heard that the new hostel you are shifting in has a lot of factories nearby. Will you be comfortable?

True, but it's still sleepable! (I know it's improper but using this to cut it short!)

Now, the question -

Is putting -able to any verb allowed following any rule/s?** We have doable, walkable, manageable, and so on.

If we can apply -able to any verb, things become so easy!

  • 3
  • 1
    This is an interesting question! I couldn't come up with any verb that can't be -able-ized, until I read @snailboat's answer on ELU. (And I got a new word, syncope, from there too.) – Damkerng T. Jan 2 '14 at 7:19
  • @DamkerngT. True and the fun is if we are allowed to -able(ize) the verbs, things become so easy to interpret! – Maulik V Jan 2 '14 at 7:54
  • 1
    This on category on Wiktionary may be useful, though I admit it does not answer your question directly: Wiktionary link – K.A.Monica Jan 5 '14 at 2:58
  • 1
    @K.A It's always nice to have a list. According to the list, 1,649 verbs are listed there. I tried sampling some verbs, and it reveals that arrive+able is not a word. However, allowable, which is a word, wasn't included in the list. – Damkerng T. Jan 5 '14 at 17:39

SUPPLEMENTAL: Laure's answer is excellent, and describes formal use of this suffix correctly: -ble is used with transitive verbs to express capable or worthy of being VERBed.

It should be noted, however, that in colloquial use—and even more in faux-colloquial writing such as advertising—there is a growing tendency to extend the suffix to intransitive verbs to express the sense usable or suitable for VERBing. Your own example, sleepable, is just this sort of use: it means the hostel in question is usable for sleeping despite the nearby factories. Here's another:

[Franz West] spent a lot of his time sitting, being on his posterior. He made sittable sculptures. He started doing this in the mid-1980s, he started to make these things you’d sit on. link

Creating new -ble words from intransitive verbs is not currently acceptable in formal English, but it should not be regarded as an “error”. It is a natural extension of the sense; and historically, in fact, it represents a return to the original sense of the Latin suffix -a/ibilis, which expressed both ability and fitness. Several fairly common words, which entered English directly from Latin, or from Latin via French, have the suffix in this sense: terrible, horrible, comfortable. I have little doubt that in another generation or two the use with intransitive verbs will again be generally acceptable.

The -able/-ible distinction, by the way, reflects differing Latin stems: Latin verbs ending in -are in the infinitive take -able, others take -ible.

  • You could say "the hotel is sleepable-in", because while "sleep" is intransitive, "sleep in" is transitive. That might still not be acceptable formally (by reason of novelty/unconventionality: other constructions of the same form would), but generally I don't think it would be rejected by English speakers. They might think it sounds high-faluting. – Steve Jessop Mar 17 '14 at 18:19
  • In fact, because that construction is a bit painful, you can get away with intentional incorrectness: youtube.com/watch?v=oSEIBaYJ3Ik (25 seconds in, "they've got to be easily turn-off-and-on-able"). – Steve Jessop Mar 17 '14 at 18:24

It would be fairly safe to say you can add -able to any verb that can bear the construction "can be + past participle" (this can be said → it is sayable), or as snailboat/plane pointed out all transitive verbs.


1- The suffix is not always spellable as -able. It will be spelled -ible with a few verbs whose common point is to have a Latin root. I do not know why with some and not others, it may have something to do with the way the suffixation of the word was formed in Latin.
A few examples:
- This post is perfectible.
- Grammar rules aren't really flexible.
- A collapsible bed (although I've already met a collapsable bed).

Sometimes the -able and -ible adjectives exist alongside, usually with a nuance in meaning. In these cases the -ible adjective has come directly from a Latin verb that has not made its way in present day English, and the -able adjective is formed from the present English verb of Saxon origin.

This cake is quite eatable means "it tastes nice". This cake is edible means I haven't put any poisonous substance in it.

A hearable sound (rarely used, I admit) is nice to hear, an audible sound has a physical quality (loudness for example) that makes you can hear it.

2- Sometimes the root of the verb will be slightly modified:
- verbs ending in -ate: navigable, translatable...
- (in)comprehensible. (I can't think of any other verb ending with -hend to generalize further)

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    +1 Reprehensible, apprehensible. And the 'present English verb' need not be 'of Saxon origin': 'moveable' and 'mobile' both go back to latin 'movere'. – StoneyB on hiatus Jan 5 '14 at 17:38

According to the rules of StackExchange, you should put ONE question in a QA. And you have two, and both, the one in the header and in the end, are THE questions, according to you.

The answer to the question in header is: Definitely not, because some verbs take "ible" instead:

dirigible, foible, submersible

look http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/-ible#English

The answer to the question at the end of the text, is: there are rulES, not a rule. Again, look wiki

There suffix -able has several meanings and you can't use it automatically - you won't know which of the meanings is meant in each case. In human languages there is only one absolute and automatic rule - there are no absolute rules.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.