Penetrable versus impenetrable


New Member

Which one (impenetrable or penetrable) can be used in this sentence:

Le Sueur examines an intriguing cultural background of Tibet, thus providing a fascinating insight into a country which still remains hardly ______ to today's traveller.

Thanks in advance for your help.
  • chris139

    New Member
    Excuse me. I was not aware of that.

    I know that penetrable is correct in this sentence. I should rather ask whether "impenetrable" would suit as well. I think it does albeit it would make this sentence a little bit weird (contex of Tibet).

    This sentence is from Polish matura exam which took place today.

    Thanks for your help.


    Senior Member
    English - US
    As I said in my deleted note, the use of the negative adverb "hardly" in your sentence necessitates the positive "penetrable." "Hardly impenetrable" would be a kind of double negative. The original sentence was "Virtually impenetrable." (I googled the phrase after Cagey deleted my note, but I obediently refrained from commenting).


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The country remains hardly penetrable...
    The country remains inpenetrable...

    The collocation "hardly impenetrable" is strange. I don't know what that means.


    Senior Member
    English - US
    I think it should say something like "almost/nearly/virtually impenetrable". I can't think of any way to say "only a little bit penetrable" using the word "penetrable" itself.
    I don't think I would ever use "penetrable" in normal speech or writing (pehaps in a specific scientific context?). In fact, I looked it up to make sure it was a word.
    I'm putting it on my list of negative words where the positive is uncommon or nonexistent (incognito, disgruntled, etc). ;)