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Normally, the noun "ability" is followed by a to-infinitive, as in "ability to sing." But I have seen someone define the noun "faculty" as "a particular ability for doing something." I'd like to know if this is a mistake or entirely natural.

I'd appreciate your help.

1 Answer 1

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Both the to-infinitive and "for -ing" forms are appropriate in both examples you give.

In everyday use, the "for -ing" form is used more often when there is an adjective in front of "an ability". For example, "You have a wonderful ability for singing". Although "You have a wonderful ability to sing" is just as appropriate and sounds fine.

But without the adjective, the to-infinitive form is used more often: "You have an ability to sing."

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  • (-1) "Ability for" doesn't sound right to me, and looking at ngrams backs this up. "For" is the wrong preposition, with or without a preceding adjective. We say "ability to" and "facility for." We could also say "knack for singing" or "singing ability."
    – TypeIA
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 8:07
  • @TypeIA Maybe you're speaking for British English? I am a native English speaker from Canada. The phrase "facility for" is never used here. Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 13:38

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