There are many words in English which have close meanings to each other and its always hard (specially for non-native English learners) to recognize and choose when to use them. Here are some definitions & differences about some mysterious words that are so similar ! (Chapter 1 )
‘Able’ or ‘Capable’
- able – if someone or something is able to do something, they have skills or qualities which make it possible for them to do it.
- capable – if a person or thing is capable of doing something, they have the ability, capacity, or potential to do it.
The different usage between able and capable is ‘ able ‘ has a broader meaning in one’s ability but ‘ capable ‘ shows one’s ability in a more specialized aspect.
Example: She is an able teacher. ( She is a teacher with quality )
Example: She is a capable teacher. ( She has the ability to be a teacher )
Capable also shows a sense of possibility whereas there is no such usage with able.
The situation is capable of improvement.
(In this situation, we can’t replace capable with able to show the possibility for improvement.)
- Ability can be acquired through a series of training, but capability has nothing to do with training.
Example: I do not doubt his ability to do the work.
‘Eligible‘ or ‘Illegible’
- eligible : suitable, worthy
Example: She is looking for an eligible bachelor for her daughter.
Example: All Malaysian citizens of twenty-one years and above are eligible to vote.
- illegible – too unclear to be read
Example: He had to type his work since his writing was illegible.
Example: The signature on the medical certificate was illegible.
‘Eminent’ or ‘Imminent’
- eminent – prominent, distinguished, famous
Example: His operation was carried out by an eminent surgeon.
Examples: An eminent scientist has made a breakthrough in the field of nuclear physics.
- imminent – about to take place
Example: As the sky grew darker, a storm seemed imminent.
Example: The imminent arrival of the guest made everyone a little nervous.
Example: There was little hope of his living and his imminent death made everyone feel sad.
‘Ensure’ or ‘Assure’
- ensure – to make sure; to make sure something will happen
Example: The medicine will ensure you a good night’s rest.
Example: You must always ensure that all doors and grilles are locked before going to bed.
- assure – to inform confidently, to promise, to persuade
Example: I assure you the medicine will work.
Example: He hastened to assure the hotel guests that the water shortage would not affect them.
‘Formally’ or ‘Formerly’
- formally – ceremonially, according to custom
Example: She was formally crowned Miss World last night.
Example: The exhibition was formally opened by the Minister of Education.
- formerly – previously, in earlier times
Example: He was formerly the Prime Minister of Russia.
Example: East Timor was formerly part of Indonesia.
Example: Muhammad Ali was formerly known as Cassius Clay.
‘Historic’ or ‘Historical’
- historic: important in history
Example: Welcome to historic Melaka.
Example: Independence Day is a historic day for any nation.
Example: When man first landed on the moon it was considered a feat of historic importance.
- historical: concerning history as a subject
Example: He is a member of the National Historical Society.
Example: She really loves reading historical novels about 18th century Europe.
‘Homework’ or ‘Housework’
- homework: studies carried out at home in preparation for school
Example: He forgot to do his Maths homework.
Example: In addition to a full day’s lessons. pupils have quite a lot of homework to do at night.
Example: She looks forward to the school holidays and a rest from lessons, teachers and homework.
- housework – domestic work, household chores
Example: She doesn’t mind doing all housework but ironing.
Example: It is not fair to let Mother do all the housework, so we try to help her when we can.
‘Human’ or ‘Humane’
- human: pertaining to man
Example: There is no finer musical instrument than the human voice.
Example: He decided to major in the Human Sciences.
- humane – merciful, showing human kindness
Example: Society today tries to be more humane than in the past.
Example: Some argue that capital punishment is more humane than life imprisonment.