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    #1

    be able to vs be capable of?

    In the following pairs of sentences, are both A and B correct? What are the differences? Is B better than A? Thank you so much.

    1. A. The ship is able to face the heavy seas.
    B. The ship is capable of facing the heavy seas.

    2. A. The remark is able to be misunderstood.
    B. The remark is capable of being misunderstood.

    3. A. All carry-on items must be able to fit in the overhead bin or under the seat.
    B. All carry-on items must be capable of fitting in the overhead bin or under the
    seat.

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: be able to vs be capable of?

    Quote Originally Posted by maoyueh View Post
    In the following pairs of sentences, are both A and B correct? What are the differences? Is B better than A? Thank you so much.

    1. A. The ship is able to face the heavy seas.
    B. The ship is capable of facing the heavy seas.

    2. A. The remark is able to be misunderstood.
    B. The remark is capable of being misunderstood.

    3. A. All carry-on items must be able to fit in the overhead bin or under the seat.
    B. All carry-on items must be capable of fitting in the overhead bin or under the
    seat.
    "To be capable" and "to be able" are more active verbs, in my opinion. Someone is capable of learning a foreign language for example, but a language is not capable of being learnt.

    As far as your example about the carry-on luggage is concerned, I would say :

    - All carry-on items must fit in the overhead locker.
    - All passengers must be able to fit their carry-on luggage in the overhead locker.
    - All passengers must be capable of lifting their carry-on luggage above their heads to put it in the overhead locker.

    The first sentence puts emphasis on the size of the carry-on item.
    The second puts emphasis on the fact that the passenger must be able to make the item fit.
    The third puts emphasis on the fact that the passenger must be strong enough to lift the item into the locker.

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