unthinkable / impossible

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Senior Member
Dear all,

1. She thought it's impossible that her ancestors were pirates, even though some documents point to the fact.
2. She thought it's unthinkable that her ancestors were pirates, even though some documents point to the fact.

I made those up. I would appreciate if someone would explain the differences in meaning between the two sentences (by focusing on the bold-faced parts).
  • themadprogramer

    Senior Member
    Turkish, English
    Impossible: There's no way in the universe to do it. (But since this is a thought doesn't necessarily have to be reality)
    Unthinkable: There's no way she could have predicted her pirate ancestry. I suppose this option is interchangeable with unimaginable.

    They're nearly the same. There's only a very subtle difference, because this is referring to a thought. If it were referring to something else such as in this case:

    It's impossible for rats to fly. (There's no way in the Universe that rats can fly. The author is certain.)

    Flying rats are unthinkable. (The writer is telling the reader that he or she could never imagine flying rats, however maybe there is a way that rats could fly despite the writer not realizing. For instance rats boarding a plane could be arguably considered "flying rats")
    Last edited:

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I do not think the grammar is quite right in either of them.
    You don't need it's at the start.

    She thought is impossible ...
    She thought it unthinkable

    Then, if you look at the second one, it sounds really odd to collocate thought so close to unthinkable, so if this was my writing I'd avoid it!
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