One Way to Form -able/-ible Adjectives in Arabic


root: ن-ح-و / noun / definition: grammar, syntax

Negotiable, feasible, transferable, reversible, washable… All of these adjectives end in the -able/-ible suffix and indicate an ability or susceptibility to something (for example, something “measurable” is able to be measured, something “combustible” is susceptible to combustion, etc).

Now, how can we express this category of words in Arabic?

Well, there’s more than one way, including the use of the word يُمكِن or the passive participle (اسم مفعول).

But today we’re going to focus on how to use the word قابِل to form -able/-ible adjectives:

قابِل is the active participle (اسم فاعِل) of form I of the root ق-ب-ل.

On its own, it can mean “liable”/”susceptible”. It’s usually followed by لـِ, meaning “to”.

When قابِل is followed by a verbal noun (مَصدَر) with an attached لـِ prefix, this phrase forms a meaning corresponding to the English -able/-ible adjectives.

So, the formula is:

قابِل + لـِ + المصدر




كُرْسِيّ قابِل لِلطَّيّ

a foldable chair

تَدابير قابِلة لِلتَّنْفيذ

enforceable measures

(Note that قابِل here has taken the feminine ـة ending. This is because the noun it is describing (تدابير) is a non-human plural, and therefore it is treated grammatically as the feminine singular. As قابل is an adjective in this adjective phrase, it must match the grammar of the noun—so it must be feminine too.)

كانَ العَقْدُ قابِلاً للتَّجْديد

the contract was renewable

صُلْب غَيْر قابِل للصَّدَأ

stainless steel

(While there’s no -able/-ible adjective in the translation here, “stainless” holds the same meaning as one; i.e. it means “unable to stain”/”not susceptible to staining”—which would be a literal translation of the Arabic.)

I hope this was helpful and explained clearly enough; if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment section below!

!إلى اللقاء

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