7
  1. Science is capable of wonderful things - but not always, and rarely as quickly as we would wish.

  2. Science has capability of wonderful things - but not always, and rarely as quickly as we would wish.

  3. Science has capability of doing wonderful things - but not always, and rarely as quickly as we would wish.

  4. Science has capability of making wonderful things - but not always, and rarely as quickly as we would wish.

Are 2, 3 and 4 acceptable variations of 1, which is quoted from The New York Times? Or, in any case, is 1 the best way to word that sentence and the other versions are, at best, examples of sloppy phrasing?

5

1) Science is capable of wonderful things - but not always, and rarely as quickly as we would wish.

This is a perfectly valid construction. Science has the ability to do/create/etc. wonderful things.

2) Science has capability of wonderful things - but not always, and rarely as quickly as we would wish.

This is nonsense. Adding 'the' before 'capability', as others have mentioned, actually doesn't help; the sentence is still nonsense. "Science has the capability of wonderful things" doesn't make any sense, because there's no verb here; science has the capability of doing what to/with/for/etc. wonderful things? Creating them, making them, doing them, destroying them...what? This is not valid.

3) Science has capability of doing wonderful things - but not always, and rarely as quickly as we would wish.

Here you've added the verb 'doing', which is great. We do need 'the' here, though. I'd also mention that, while in the first example science is capable of something, here it must have the capability to do something. The correct version would be:

Science has the capability to do wonderful things - but not always, and rarely as quickly as we would wish.

This has identical meaning to the original sentence #1, just with a lot more words. To be capable of something is the same thing as having the capability to do something.

4) Science has capability of making wonderful things - but not always, and rarely as quickly as we would wish.

Let's fix this one up similarly to sentence #3, and for the same reasons:

Science has the capability to make wonderful things - but not always, and rarely as quickly as we would wish.

This is similar in meaning to the first sentence and corrected third sentence, except it uses make where the third sentence uses do (and the first sentence leaves out the verb entirely).

You can always add the verb to the first sentence, by the way; any of these are valid:

Science is capable of (doing/making/creating/etc.) wonderful things - but not always, and rarely as quickly as we would wish.

To answer your final question, a variant of the first sentence is most likely your best choice. But you can modify it with any verb to add the specificity it seems you were trying to add in sentences three and four.

  • Can explain why you wrote “Science has the capability to make wonderful things” instead of “Science has the capability of making wonderful things”? That isn't a choice I'd make. Both seem grammatical. – James Waldby - jwpat7 Mar 23 '13 at 19:58
  • @jwpat7 That link would suggest that both are correct, yes. I suppose I wrote it that way because that's how I'd say it. "Has the capability of making" sounds quite odd to me (why not just say "is capable of making"?). But I suppose it's a stylistic choice, because as you say, both appear grammatical. I wasn't aware of this beforehand; "has the capability of making" doesn't sound right to me, though clearly it is. – WendiKidd Mar 24 '13 at 0:17
  • I agree “capability of making” is clumsy, but perhaps is less so, here, than is “capability to make”. My order of preference (listing by-far-the-best first) is: ❶“can make”, ❷“is capable of making”, ❸“has the capability of making”, ❹“has the capability to make” – James Waldby - jwpat7 Mar 24 '13 at 0:31
2

1)Science is capable of wonderful things - but not always, and rarely as quickly as we would wish.

The normal usage of capable of is followed by doing something construct generally. But in the first sentence it is not explicitly mentioned. So it is assumable that the author wants to broaden the capability of sceince and does not want to confine it's capability between making and doing only. The verb can even be giving birth to. So as long as it is clear the subject is capable of doing anything, it is not needed to be mentioned.

2)Science has capability of wonderful things - but not always, and rarely as quickly as we would wish.

It is okay except it needs a the in front of "...capability of wonderful....".

3)Science has capability of doing wonderful things - but not always, and rarely as quickly as we would wish.

It clearly exhibits or explicitly states the capability of science lies in doing wonderful things. It lacks a the though. Also you are mentioning how is science capable of wonderful things here.

4)Science has capability of making wonderful things - but not always, and rarely as quickly as we would wish.

Same problem as 2) and 3). It is lacking a the. Added the to the required place, it is okay too.

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