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Able vs. Enable: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 19, 2023
"Able" means having the skill, power, or means to do something. "Enable" means to provide with the means or opportunity to do something.

Key Differences

"Able" refers to the capacity or competency inherent in a person or an entity. It implies that the skill or strength required to perform a task is already present. "Enable," on the other hand, is a verb that involves an external action that allows a person or system to perform a task.
Having the ability to complete a task means that one possesses the necessary skills, resources, or strength. To enable someone means you are granting them the power or means they need to achieve something, which they might not be able to do without assistance.
In the context of technology, being able to operate a device means one has the knowledge and skill to do so. To enable a feature on a device means to turn it on or to make it operational, often through a selection or command.
"Able" can be used to describe potential or existing capacity. For instance, a company might be able to increase production if it has the resources. To enable this increase, however, the company might need an investment or technological upgrade, which is where "enable" comes into play.
In summary, "able" is the possession of the means or skill to do something, often innately or through acquired learning. "Enable" is the act of providing the means or opportunity for someone or something to act or perform a function.

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech

Adjective (describes a noun)
Verb (describes an action)


Describes capacity or competence.
Describes the action of giving capacity or permission.


Self-sufficient capability.
Often requires external assistance or permission.


Refers to inherent qualities.
Refers to making something possible or functional.


"She is able to solve the problem."
"This tool enables you to solve the problem."

Able and Enable Definitions


Possessing the skill.
She was able to finish the marathon despite the heat.


To authorize.
The new policy enables employees to work remotely.


Having the power.
He is able to lift weights heavier than his own body.


To make possible.
The scholarship will enable her to attend college.


Having the means.
They were able to travel the world with their savings.


To give ability.
This program enables users to create their own music.


Legally permitted.
After turning 18, she was able to vote in the election.


To allow functionality.
Clicking the button enables the device's Bluetooth feature.


Having the capacity.
The company is able to handle the increased demand.


To facilitate.
The bridge enables easier access between the two cities.


Having sufficient power or resources to accomplish something
A singer able to reach high notes.
A detergent able to remove stains.


To supply with the means, knowledge, or opportunity (to do something); make able
A hole in the fence that enabled us to watch.
Techniques that enable surgeons to repair the heart.


Usage Problem Susceptible to action or treatment
The brakes were able to be fixed.


To make feasible or possible
Funds that will enable construction of new schools.


Especially capable or proficient
The new programmers proved to be very able.


What does 'able' mean?

It means having the capacity, skill, or means to do something.

Is 'enable' always about technology?

No, 'enable' can be applied to any context where something is made possible.

Are 'able' and 'capable' the same?

They are similar, but 'capable' may imply potential that is not yet realized.

Can 'able' be used as a verb?

No, 'able' is an adjective and is not used as a verb.

Can 'enable' be used as an adjective?

No, 'enable' is a verb and does not have an adjective form.

Does 'able' imply success?

'Able' implies the capability to succeed but does not guarantee it.

Can you 'enable' someone to be 'able'?

Yes, by enabling someone, you give them the means to be able to do something.

Is 'enable' the same as 'empower'?

Similar, but 'empower' often implies giving power in a more significant, transformative way.

Can an object be 'able'?

Yes, in context, like a machine being able to perform a function.

Can 'able' and 'enable' be used interchangeably?

No, they cannot because 'able' is an adjective and 'enable' is a verb with different meanings.

Is 'enable' a positive term?

'Enable' is generally positive but can be negative if it allows harmful actions.

Does 'able' relate to ability?

Yes, 'able' directly relates to one's ability.

What does 'enable' mean?

It refers to the action of making something possible or functional.

Are there any synonyms for 'enable'?

Yes, facilitate, authorize, and permit are some synonyms.

Does 'enable' always require an enabler?

Typically, yes, an enabler is someone or something that facilitates an action.

How do you use 'able' in a sentence?

"She is able to solve complex problems easily."

How do you use 'enable' in a sentence?

"Installing this software will enable advanced editing features."

What is the noun form of 'able'?

The noun form is 'ability.'

What is the noun form of 'enable'?

The noun form is 'enabler' when referring to a person, or 'enabling' when referring to the action.

Are there any synonyms for 'able'?

Yes, competent, capable, and qualified are some synonyms.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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