Brandon's Notepad

December 13, 2009

-Ible Vs. -Able

Filed under: English,Language — Brandon @ 8:00 pm

There is apparently no definitive spelling rule to determine when to use -able or -ible at the end of a word. The primary heuristic is to evaluate the root word as follows:

  • If the root is a full word, use -able.
  • If the root is not a full word, use -ible.
  • If the root is a word that ends in ‘e’, drop the ‘e’ and append -able.
  • If the root is a word that ends in ‘y’, change the ‘y’ to ‘i’ and (thus) use -ible.
  • If the root must be modified in any other way, use -ible.

There is a non-trivial number of exceptions. Also, it has been observed that most words require the -able ending, so if you have to guess, the odds favor -able.


Sources
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g_spelible.html [broken link]
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/660/01/
http://www.spelling.hemscott.net/ends8.html
http://www.paulnoll.com/Books/Clear-English/English-ible-able.html
http://literacy.kent.edu/Midwest/Materials/ndakota/spelling/lesson6.html

November 6, 2009

Online Etymology Dictionary

Filed under: English,Language — Brandon @ 10:58 am
Tags: , , ,

The Online Etymology Dictionary provides explanations for the origins of many English words as found in forty-six other dictionaries and lexicons. The copyright notice on the home page names Douglas Harper as the holder and is dated November 2001.

October 31, 2009

Compendium of Lost Words

Filed under: English,Language — Brandon @ 7:57 pm
Tags: , , ,

The Compendium of Lost Words, maintained by Stephen Chrisomalis, contains words that meet the following five rules:

1. The word must have a header entry in the Oxford English Dictionary.
2. The word may not appear in its proper English context on any readily accessible web page.
3. The word must have been used in Modern English.
4. The word must have been used in a standard English variety rather than simply in a regional dialect.
5. The word must not be a simple variation in spelling of another word.

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