ability of / to


Senior Member
Is ability always followed by to+infinitive to express the fact that somebody is able to do something?

For example, can I say that someone lost their ability of self-defence
or do I have to say they lost their ability to defend themselves?
  • suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    You could say they've lost their self-defence ability, which makes me think your pattern is "right" even though I have never thought of it before, as a native speaker.


    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    "Ability of self-defense" sounds awkward and somehow wrong to me, and so does "self-defense ability"; "ability to defend themselves" is the only one of these that sounds right.

    By the way: "defence" is British spelling, "defense" American. (I know: it doesn't make sense, since we spell "fence" the same way. But it's true.)
    < Previous | Next >