The -able suffix

When we add the suffix -able to verbs, we can form new words – adjectives that indicate you can do something.

What kind of words are these? What part of speech? They’re all adjectives. When you see -able on the end of a word, it’s probably an adjective. It generally means you can do something.

The label says washable, so I can wash it.
Washable. Washable. Washable. Not washable.

If a crime can be solved, it’s solvable. If a problem can be avoided, it’s avoidable. And the suffix -able can also mean that something has a particular characteristic or quality.
Breakable. Recyclable. Comfortable.
Notice the pronunciation of this word.

Sit down. I’m comfortable.
Please sit up Molly. Oh mom. I’m comfortable.

It has three syllables. Comfortable. What about the ‘or’, Vicki? I don’t know. We just don’t usually say it. Comfortable. DA-da-da. Comfortable
The schwa in -able is a weak sound. So we don’t say able. /’e?bl/ We say able. /?bl/
Let’s hear some more words.
If someone knows a lot and has a lot of knowledge we can say they are knowledgeable.
If something produces a profit or a useful result we can say it is profitable.
If something is satisfactory and we can accept it, we can say it is acceptable.
If we know in advance that something will happen and we can predict it, it is predictable.
If something is easy to enjoy we can say it is enjoyable. Great. You’ve got the idea. So what’s your favourite -able word? Tell us in the comments. And if this lesson was enjoyable, why not watch another? Click here. Click here.

Click here to see other prefix and suffix videos.

4 thoughts on “The -able suffix

  • October 31, 2016 at 6:05 am
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    This has been enjoyable and very much usable with my students. You must be very knowledgeable people running a profitable business. However it will be very time consuming and requiring a lot of professionalism.

    Reply
    • October 31, 2016 at 6:41 am
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      Glad you have found the videos useful. Thanks for writing.

      Reply
  • November 4, 2016 at 11:03 am
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    Dear Vicky,
    I am beginner in English. My teacher advice me to look your videos. I think it’s an fine idea. Yours videos are very amusing and interesting. I’ve a little question, have you some exercice for training me to speak?

    Reply
    • November 4, 2016 at 11:44 am
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      Hi Catherine and welcome to Simple English Videos. We have no exercises to go with the videos and I’m afraid we don’t have time to make any at present. There are some exercises in our Fix It book though, which you are very welcome to download.

      Reply

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