Capability and ability are nouns that talk about skills, but there are differences between the two. They are often used interchangeably by most people. However, they shouldn’t be, and they have different meanings. Ability refers to the state of being able or someone’s skill level or expertise. In short, it denotes the degree of talent.
Meanwhile, capability refers to the practical ability of a person or thing, especially something difficult. Another meaning is it refers to a country’s military capacity.
A hint to remember the difference between capability and ability is that capability is synonymous with a person or thing’s practical skill. In contrast, ability is more of one’s talents, skills, or level of expertise.
When to Use Capability
Capability is a noun that has two meanings. First, it refers to the skill or power of a person, machine, or organization, especially something difficult. Second, it refers to a country’s ability to carry out military action. Another tip is capability refers to the potential to do something in a context.
Referring to Practical Ability of a Person or Thing
The students are not allowed to use advanced calculators with database capability during their exams.
Managing three projects at the same time was beyond her capability. As a result, she became disorganized.
With the company’s impressive capability, its employees don’t worry about work-life balance anymore.
Referring to a Country’s Military Capacity
Amid international conflicts, a country’s nuclear capability is alarming.
Under his administration, the government seeks to increase its military capability.
Both countries have a robust military capability.
When to Use Ability
Ability is a noun that has two meanings. First, it refers to the state or quality of being able. Second, it refers to someone’s skill level or expertise.
Referring to the State of Being Able
The insurance company is lenient to their clients, regardless of their ability to pay.
Sandy soils have a poor ability to hold water. Nevertheless, they are suitable for plants with a strong root system.
Taylor Swift is talented. She has the ability to write relatable song lyrics and create beautiful music.
Referring to Someone’s Skill Level or Expertise
My test score shows that my mathematical ability is poor. Hence, I need a math tutor.
Hayley William, the lead vocalist of Paramore, has outstanding musical ability. She started singing at the age of 12.
Josephine’s impressive intellectual ability runs in their family; her sisters are also consistent honor students.
Capability vs. Ability: What’s the Difference?
While they sound nearly the same, the difference between capability and ability is the former talks about the practical ability of a person or thing, while the latter talks about one’s skill or expertise. It may seem that capability and ability mean the same thing, but they are different from each other — the former is more quantity and the latter is more quality.
Remember, while both words talk about skills, capability typically refers to specific contexts, while ability is a matter of degree.
Cambridge Dictionary. (n.d.). Ability. In https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/ dictionary. Retrieved March 11, 2022, fromhttps://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/ability
Cambridge Dictionary. (n.d.). Capability. In https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/ dictionary. Retrieved March 11, 2022, from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/capability
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online. (n.d.). Ability. Inhttps://www.ldoceonline.com/ dictionary. Retrieved March 11, 2022, from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/ability
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online. (n.d.). Capability. Inhttps://www.ldoceonline.com/ dictionary. Retrieved March 11, 2022, from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/capability
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Ability. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved March 11, 2022, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ability
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Capability. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved March 11, 2022, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/capability