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16.12: Even More About -able and -ible

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12

Even More About -able and -ible

1. You have seen that sets of bases work together as a team, the way ceed and cess work together in the verb succeed and the noun success. Sometimes one member of a set will be used for the noun ending in <ion> and another for the adjective ending in [əbəl]. For instance, consider the nouns and adjectives derived from the verbs reclaim and comprehend:

In the set claim, clam, the noun reclamation uses the bound base clam while, the adjective reclaimable use the free base claim.

Verb Noun Adjective
reclaim reclamation reclaimable

On the other hand, in the set hend, hens, the noun comprehension uses the same base as the the adjective comprehensible.

Verb Noun Adjective
comprehend comprehension comprehensible

2. Fill in the blanks and answer the questions following the table:

Verb Noun Adjective
absorb absorption absorbable
certify certification certifiable
comprehend comprehension comprehensible
destroy destruction destructible
dispose disposition disposable
divide division dividable
explain explanation explainable
explode explosion explosible
perceive perception perceptible
persuade persuasion persuasible
pronounce pronunciation pronounceable
reclaim reclamation reclaimable
resolve resolution resolvable
reveal revelation revealable
satisfy satisfaction satisfiable
solve solution solvable
submerge submersion submersible
transmit transmission transmittable

3. In the words in this array if the noun uses a different base from the adjective, the adjective ends in -able. If the noun uses the same base as the adjective, the adjective ends in -ible.

4. That leads to a fairly good generalization: In verb-noun-adjective families, if the noun ending in <ion> uses a different base from the adjective, the adjective takes -able; if the noun uses the same base as the adjective, the adjective takes -ible.

Teaching Notes.

Item 4. This is only “a fairly good generalization” because (i) it is more complex than we'd like, and (ii) it has a number of holdouts (for instance: introduction but introducible). However, the generalization has many more instances than holdouts. Also, in a number of cases there are variant spellings, one with <ible>, one with <able> (transmittable, transmittible; evadable, evadible), in which cases the generalization produces an accepted spelling. And I believe the demanding scrutiny involved can be a useful exercise for the students, both in general and for impressing the spellings in their minds.

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Date Created:

Feb 23, 2012

Last Modified:

Jul 07, 2015
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