Capability vs Ability: What’s The Difference?

Have you ever wondered what was the difference between the words capability and ability in the English language? Or maybe just want to learn more about the words to see if you are using them correctly. This article will give you all the information that you might want on how to use both words.

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What Is the Definition of the Word Capability vs. the Word Ability?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of capability is:

  • the quality of being capable; capacity; ability:
    • His capability was unquestionable.
  • the ability to undergo or be affected by a given treatment or action:
    • The capability of glass in resisting heat.
  • Usually capabilities. qualities, abilities, features, etc., that can be used or developed; potential:
    • Though dilapidated, the house has great capabilities.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of ability is:

  • power, capacity, or know how to do or act physically, mentally, legally, morally, financially, etc.
  • the possession of the means, whether physical or mental, to do something; a competitive advantage according to benchmarking
  • competencies in an activity or occupation because of one’s skill, training, or other qualification:
    • The ability to sing well.
  • abilities, special skills or aptitudes, talents of people:
    • In other words, composing music is beyond his abilities.

What Is the Difference Between Capability and Ability?

Both words are used in the same contexts and are synonyms. There are some subtle differences between the two words and you should be well informed about these differences so you use the one you want to in order to convey the correct message. 

The word ability refers to a practical ability that you are able to do a task or action right now. The capability to do something means that you are able to do something, perhaps right now or in the future. You might not be able to run a marathon right now but if you’re training you can say that you have the capability to run a marathon and you are working towards being able to run one.

Synonyms of Capability and Ability

Capability 

  • Wherewithal
  • Capacity
  • Power
  • Facility
  • Menas
  • Proficiency
  • Efficiency 
  • Potential
  • Skill
  • Effectiveness 

Ability 

  • Faculty
  • Talent
  • Capacity
  • Strength
  • Intelligence
  • Understanding
  • Qualification 

Examples of the Words in Context

Ability 

Capability

Summary

You should be confident when you have to use either capability or ability in a sentence than before we began. You might even consider yourself an expert grammarist on the two words now and took away some useful trivia about both words.

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