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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.

Also,

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!

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    I wrote a little answer about this on ELU once.
    – user230
    Jan 2, 2014 at 6:47
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    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.) Jan 2, 2014 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, 2014 at 7:54
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    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, 2014 at 2:58
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    @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. Jan 5, 2014 at 17:39

3 Answers 3

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+50

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.

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  • 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. Mar 17, 2014 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"). Mar 17, 2014 at 18:24
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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.

But:

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)

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    +1 Reprehensible, apprehensible. And the 'present English verb' need not be 'of Saxon origin': 'moveable' and 'mobile' both go back to latin 'movere'. Jan 5, 2014 at 17:38
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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.

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