Ability / became able to

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Loukas, May 22, 2008.

  1. Loukas New Member

    Which would you use more intuitively, the phrase "to gain ability" or to "become able"? Is the second technically correct, anyway?

    Thanks for help :)
    Last edited: May 22, 2008
  2. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    Welcome to the forum, Loukas. :)

    Without more context it is very difficult to answer. Ability in what? For example, "to gain ability in a foreign language" would not be intuitive at all nor would "become able in a foreign language."

    Please check out the Rules/FAQ at the top of the page along with the Forum Guidelines (the first post in this English Only Forum.) They will give you excellent examples of how to phrase a question so that you get the most accurate response.

    I think in most cases there is a better word than "ability/able", but I honestly don't know without a sample sentence.
  3. Loukas New Member

    So, let's imagine a person recovering from legs paralysis; you'd say:

    he regained ability to walk or he became able to walk again

    (I do, certainly, know that there are plenty better words to express the meaning, but still I'm just considering the two options involving "ability", since I was recently told that such phrase as "become able to" is gramatically incorrect, which I, intuitively - again ;), doubted.)
  4. gaer

    gaer Senior Member

    Fort Lauderdale
    Now both are correct. :)
  5. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    Thank you for the example.

    I would use "he regained the ability to walk again" or "he was able to walk again". I don't think that "he became able" is grammatically incorrect. You asked what our intuitive choices would be.

    "He became able" makes sense to me:

    "With practice, he became able to balance a place atop a ten foot pole on the tip of his nose." :)

    Here are a few quotes from a Google Books search:

    As he was increasingly able to appreciate what I gave him, he gradually became able to give something back.

    The robot gradually became able to reach the target from other situations by using the conditions as sub-goals.

    As more blacks became able to buy land, many of them purchased it in the same area, which became known as Rogersville.
  6. gaer

    gaer Senior Member

    Fort Lauderdale
    I had the same reaction to this: "He became able to walk again".

    I would also suggest: "He was able to walk again".

    The sentence with "became" is not wrong, and we might find a context in which we might find it acceptable. Alone it sounds forced or a bit clumsy, at least to me. In fact, it strikes me as a bit archaic.

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