Ability versus capability

language, Learning

I have this fascination for the nuances between words in the English language and whenever I come across something which I find interesting, I end up sharing with you’ll. Earlier I have shared the differences between being relentless and being persistent and others.

I have generally ended up using ability and capability interchangeably. The general meaning of both the terms is actually similar, so I wasn’t making an error in my usage.

Ability is generally defined as the possession of or the skill of doing something. If you look for the synonyms of ability you will find the word capability listed.

When I delved a little deeper in the formation of the word capability, I realised its the intersection of capacity and ability. So from what I could make out, in terms of the human performance – ability is about having the skill, but if I don’t have the capacity to do it then its not a capability.

So I may have the skill to play hockey – which means I have the ability. Can I play in a competition – may be not because I don’t have the stamina / capacity to last a competitive match – that’s not having the capability. Its a very nuanced difference, but it exists.

How did I come across this issue, which took me down this rabbit hole. Well I was listening to a podcast on morecheeselesswhiskers.com and Dean Jackson used the term ability to define a musician having the instruments and the skill to play and capability as something where she can also make music. So you may have the skill to play an instrument but not be able to create music on your own using the instrument.

Its a very fine line, but if you follow the English language then this could be of interest to you.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

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