Ability vs. Abilities

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Anonymous

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When do you use the plural of the word ability? Is it correct to state the following:

The user shall have the ability to update fonts and edit text fields.

Or do you need to say:

The user shall have the abilities to update fonts and edit text fields.

Is it correct to use the singular or plural form of ability?

Thanks,

Becca
 

RonBee

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The user shall have the ability to update fonts and edit text fields.
In that sentence you are talking about two closely-related things. The singular is more appropriate.

You could also say:
  • The user shall have the ability to update fonts and the ability to edit text fields.

Use the plural to talk about things in general. Example:
  • People have many abilities.
And:
  • A couple of his abilities are driving a car and holding a conversation.

:)
 

MikeNewYork

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Becca said:
When do you use the plural of the word ability? Is it correct to state the following:

The user shall have the ability to update fonts and edit text fields.

Or do you need to say:

The user shall have the abilities to update fonts and edit text fields.

Is it correct to use the singular or plural form of ability?

Thanks,

Becca

I agree with what Ron said. In addition, I would say that we would not normally use "abilities" in this context, even if the activities were unrelated. We would tend to start a new structure.

The successful applicant will have the abilities to edit text fields and repair plumbing. (NO)

The successful applicant will have the ability to edit text fields and to repair plumbing. (OK)

The successful applicant will have the ability to edit text fields. The ability to repair plumbing will also improve the applicant's chances.
 
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