Learning suffixes is one of my favorite ways to help my ESL students increase their English vocabulary. By adding the suffix –ABLE to words you already know you can quickly and easily learn new English words.
5 common examples of words that use the suffix –able
- available – that you can get or have access to
- comfortable – feeling relaxed with no stress or worry
- drinkable – that you can drink
- enjoyable – that you can enjoy
- unbelievable – (informal) used to emphasize how good, bad or extreme something is
I spent some time researching and collecting examples of words that use the suffix ~able. Keep reading for definitions and real, natural examples that you can use right away in your own English conversations.
Suffix -able meaning
We’ll use the suffix ~able with verbs to make adjectives show that the verb is possible.
drinkable = safe to drink (you can drink it, it’s not poisonous)
It is also used with nouns to make adjectives that mean having the quality of that noun.
comfortable = having the quality of comfort (it feels relaxing)
Word Origin – from French -able or Latin -abilis; originally found in words only from these forms but later used to form adjectives directly from English verbs ending in -ate
Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries suffix ~able
What words end with the suffix able?
The suffix ~able is used with verbs and nouns to make new adjectives.
You will find that most verbs with the suffix ~able will show possibility and may have CAN in the definition.
Nouns with the suffix ~able show a condition or quality.
22 Possibility adjectives with the suffix -able
adjustable – that can be moved to different positions or changed in shape or size
- My bicycle seat is adjustable so you can change the height.
agreeable – pleasant and easy to like
- We just met Kayla’s boyfriend today for the first time. I like him he’s very agreeable.
available – that you can get or have access to
From the verb avail – to make use of something, especially an opportunity or offer
- When I got to the store they only had extra large shirts available. I need a medium.
avoidable – that can be prevented
- We should have prepared more, all this trouble was completely avoidable.
believable – that can be believed
- If you get to work late you need an excuse that is believable, nothing too crazy.
*Very common unbelievable. [Prefix -UN] That story is unbelievable.
breakable – likely to break; easily broken
- Make sure you wrap all the breakable items in thick towels before you pack them in the box.
chewable – capable of being chewed
- Regular vitamins are okay but I prefer chewable ones.
dependable – that can be relied on to do what you want or need
- Before I start my new job I need a dependable car to get me to and from work.
doable – able to be done
- It was a large task but it was doable. I was confident I could complete it.
drinkable – clean and safe to drink
- Many countries don’t have drinkable water even in their bigger cities.
excusable – that can be excused
- If it was an honest mistake then it’s excusable. If it was done on purpose it is not.
*Very common inexcusable. [Prefix -IN] Your actions are inexcusable.
foreseeable – that you can predict will happen; that can be foreseen
- Dwayne and Cassandra are very happy together. I can see them getting married in the foreseeable future.
irritable – getting annoyed easily; showing your anger
- Gus is a nice guy but he’s a little bit irritable in the mornings.
justifiable – existing or done for a good reason, and therefore acceptable
- It’s really cool but there’s no way I can spend that much money on a new car. It’s not justifiable right now.
passable – fairly good but not excellent
- My French is not perfect but it’s passable. I can navigate Montreal without any problems.
perishable – (especially of food) likely to decay or go bad quickly
- I keep dried and canned food in the pantry and anything perishable goes in the refrigerator.
predictable – if something is predictable, you know in advance that it will happen or what it will be like
- The movie wasn’t bad, it was just a bit predictable. I felt like I always knew what was going to happen.
preventable – that can be stopped from happening
- The accident was preventable in my opinion.
sustainable – ① involving the use of natural products and energy in a way that does not harm the environment
- The world needs to move towards sustainable energy sources for the future.
② that can continue or be continued for a long time
- We are working at a fast pace but I don’t think it’s sustainable. The team will burn out quickly if we don’t slow down.
unbelievable – (informal) used to emphasize how good, bad or extreme something is
- That movie was unbelievable! Let’s watch it again this weekend.
unknowable – that cannot be known
- Understanding the early formation of our universe is difficult and may even be unknowable.
wearable – (of clothes, etc.) pleasant and comfortable to wear; suitable to be worn
- The spring fashion show had some very wearable clothes this season. Usually, the fashion shows that I watch have models wearing crazy outfits that are not practical.
10 Condition adjectives with the suffix -able
adorable – very attractive and easy to feel love for
- Have you seen Brenda’s new puppy? Is so adorable!
comfortable – feeling relaxed with no stress or worry
- We stayed at my favorite Hotel. The food is awesome and the beds are so comfortable.
considerable – great in amount, size, importance, etc.
- The company lost a considerable amount of money last year.
desirable – that you would like to have or do; worth having or doing
- The most desirable outcome is the one where everybody wins.
enjoyable – giving pleasure
- I found the movie very enjoyable.
fashionable – ① following a style that is popular at a particular time
- Jennifer was wearing some fashionable jeans today, she has a nice Style.
② used or visited by people following a current fashion, especially by rich people
- They just opened a very fashionable restaurant on Main Street. I heard the food is great but it’s too expensive for me.
favorable – making or showing a good opinion of somebody/something
- When I met my wife’s family for the first time I wanted to make a favorable impression.
honorable – deserving great respect
- Ken is a decent and honorable man. I like him a lot.
questionable – ① that you have doubts about because you think it is not accurate or correct
- I reviewed the report and some of these numbers are questionable.
② likely to be dishonest or morally wrong
- I’m not sure why Tom did that. His motives are questionable to me.
reasonable – fair, practical, acceptable
- That sounds like a reasonable solution to me.
regrettable – that you are sorry about and wish had not happened
- What happened at the party was regrettable. I’m sorry to anyone who was affected by it.
remarkable – unusual or surprising in a way that causes people to take notice
- The goalie made a remarkable save in the last minute of the game to secure the win for his team.
Able Vs ~able – Correct Pronunciation
The verb able and the suffix ~able are spelled exactly the same but not pronounced the same. Here’s the difference.
The verb able makes an AY sound. (Like DAY)
- Superman is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. (bound = a high or long jump)
The suffix ~able makes an AH sound. (Like SPA)
- Regular vitamins are okay but I prefer chewable ones.
Suffix ~able vs ~ible What’s the Difference
Both suffixes –able and –ible are added to words to make adjectives that show something can be done.
-ible suffix 1. that can or must be
Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries suffix ~ible
Here are two common adjectives using the suffix –ible
audible – that can be heard clearly
- Dogs can hear sounds that are not audible to human ears.
reversible – (of clothes, materials, etc.) that can be turned inside out and worn or used with either side showing
- I just bought a reversible jacket. The outside is dark blue and the inside is light grey. I can wear it either way.
Learn How to use Either and Neither (video and QUIZ)
From my research, the suffix –able is still being used to make new adjectives but the suffix –ible is not.
This means adjectives ending with the suffix -ible are older words that were made in the past.
This is also why we hear words ending with ABLE more often than words ending with IBLE. New words with the suffix -able are still being made!
The suffixes “-able” and “-ible” are both used to form adjectives meaning “possible, capable of, suitable for, or causing.” Of the two, “-able” is much more common: it is what’s known as a “living” or “productive” suffix, meaning that it is still being used to create new words. The variant “-ible,” on the other hand, is only used in older words that have survived into modern English.
The video clips that I used in this post are from a fun video that I found on YouTube. You can watch the whole video here 🙂
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