Basic+ Word of the Day: able

able (adjective, suffix) LISTEN

She was able to read when she was four.

If you are able to do something, it means that it is possible for you to do it. When we use be able to, it has the same meaning as can or could.

  • Are you able to finish work early today? (=Can you finish work early today?)
  • She was able to read when she was four. (=She could read when she was four.)

We often use be able to when it isn’t possible to use can. For example, it isn’t possible to use can after will or should.

  • I should be able to help you. (=It should be possible for me to help you.)

Able can also be part of a word. For example, understandable comes from the word understand and -able. If something is understandable, it means that you can understand it. There are many words that are formed the same way (for example: imaginable or lovable).

  • He has a strange accent, but it’s understandable.

In pop culture

Matilda is a movie about a very clever little girl. She is able to do lots of things that other people can’t do. In this video from the movie, Matilda is reading a book, but her family wants her to watch TV with them. What happens to the TV?

There are other meanings of able.

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Word of the Day is released Monday through Friday.

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