Should a word end with the suffix ’able or ‘ible?
It turns out there are spelling rules for this. However, these are most applicable to the creation of new words.
But it also helps to look up the definitions, because sometimes base words with different suffixes have different meanings.
- If the root can stand alone as a word, then use ’able (and if it ends in the letter “e”, then drop the “e”)
- If the root cannot stand alone as a word, then use ’ible.
The first rule says that accept become acceptable, and advise becomes advisable.
The second rule says that “compat” becomes compatible.
Easy … so far. In my case, I was trying to figure out whether to use infectable or infectible in a sentence.* The spelling rules say that infectable is a word, and that infectible is not.
Except for that whole definition thingie. Here’s Wordnik:
Here’s both in a sentence. An infectible human was exposed to an infectable virus.
* Note that both words are flagged by most spellcheckers as incorrect.