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16.13: Lesson Thirty-seven

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Summary and Review of -able and -ible

1. Here are the generalizations from the previous three lessons:

i. Stems that form nouns with <ation> take -able to form adjectives

ii. Verbs that end in <ate> take -able to form adjectives.

iii. Verbs that end in <y> take -able to form adjectives.

iv. In verb-noun-adjective families, if the noun ending in <ion> uses a different base than the adjective, the adjective takes -able; if the noun uses the same base as the adjective, the adjective takes -ible.

2. Applying these generalizations, fill in the blanks below with whichever is correct:

Verb Noun Adjective
admire admiration admirable
irritate imitation irritable
vary variation variable
oppose opposition opposable
consider consideration considerable
tolerate toleration tolerable
deny deniable
justify justification justifiable
observe observation observable
negotiate negotiation negotiable
envy enviable
classify classification classifiable
pronounce pronunciation pronounceable
comprehend comprehension comprehensible

3. All of the words with -ible come from French and Latin (as do many of those with -able). However, -able is the form we use for making adjectives from native English words and for making up new words. The following words are all native English words. Add the suffix that changes them to an adjective ending in [əbəl]:

Native Word Adjective with [əbəl]
answer answerable
believe believable
break breakable
chew chewable
crunch crunchable
drink drinkable
foresee foreseeable
forget forgettable
forgive forgivable
kiss kissable
kiss kissable
laugh laughable
learn learnable
reach reachable
return returnable
sing singable
teach teachable
work workable

Native adjectives use the suffix -able.

This is a very strong generalization. But it is not very useful if you can't recognize native words. One hint: Notice that native words tend to be very short, only one syllable. Compare them with the words in the tables in Lesson 36. Words from Latin and French most often have two or more syllables.

4. The following are a few adjectives that have just recently been made up. Analyze each one into its stem plus suffix and be ready to talk about what you think they mean:

New Adjective Analysis: Stem + Suffix
biodegradable biodegrad\cancel{e}+ able
addressable address + able
air-droppable air-drop + p + able
camouflageable camouflage + able
cartoppable cartop + p + able
thermoformable thermoform + able

5. One last word about -able and -ible: Remember that -able is about six times more common than -ible and that it is usually a good bet.

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1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5

Date Created:

Feb 23, 2012

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Feb 23, 2012
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