Do "capable" and "able to" always refer to physical or intelligence abilities?

To me, they can also indicate opportunities, permission and other conditions that make whatever you are talking possible.

What do you think?

Example 1

"I am capable of accessing trains easily because I live close to a train station."

Example 2

"I am able to access trains easily because I live close to a train station."

I have my boss's permission.

Example 3

"I am capable of taking calls from the clients on his behalf."

Example 4

"I am able to take calls from the clients on his behalf."

  • 1
    Better not to use access as the verb. 'Accessing' a train is how we talk about getting in the station, onto the platforms, in the rail vehicle, etc. Some London Underground stations are shown on the system map with a symbol if they are 'wheelchair accessible', If they are, they are said to have 'level access'. Commented May 15 at 6:13
  • I can get to trains easily. Neither able or capable works here in most situations, unless you are disabled.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 15 at 13:33

2 Answers 2


Capable of normally refers to your physical or intellectual ability to do something, not to an ability resulting from the fact that you happen to live near the railway station. So I would consider (1) inappropriate, and (3) appropriate only if you mean that you have the know-how to deal with clients.


No, able to does not refer only to physical or intellectual abilities. Consider, for example

We’re unable to accept your gracious invitation because we’ve promised our daughter we’d watch her children

or even

I am unable to endorse your opinion that country western is as beautiful as J.S. Bach.

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