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I want to say one of the following:

  • For them, ability of speaking is worthless since all the them are great speakers.
  • For them, ability to speak is worthless since all of them are great speakers.

Which one is more natural to a native speaker?

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closed as general reference by Andrew Leach, Cameron, Kris, J.R., MετάEd Nov 30 '12 at 0:40

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
Did you check a dictionary? Here's one which contains an illustrative example. –  Andrew Leach Nov 8 '12 at 8:03

1 Answer 1

The "ability to speak" is correct:

For them, the ability to speak is worthless because all of them are great speakers.

but the semantics of the sentence, no matter how it's said, is illogical because of the word "worthless".

Maybe "is worthless" should be "is unimportant" or "is of secondary importance" or "isn't {an issue/a problem}".

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Is 'ability of' is completely wrong? A google search shows some usage of it, although they do not look very credible! –  Dilawar Nov 8 '12 at 8:18
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I think it's completely wrong and that no native speaker would use it. Except, of course, in sentences like "Assessing the driving ability of the elderly is important in 2012". But your sentence is not of this type. You can't trust Google to give you only examples of native-speaker English. Everybody in the world uses English, but not everyone writes natural idiomatic native-speaker English. –  user21497 Nov 8 '12 at 8:41
    
Dilawar- When ability means the fact of being able to do something, it's always followed by an infinitive. –  Noah Nov 8 '12 at 9:24
    
Re worthless: worth means the same as value in the sense of something prized. It does not mean value in the different sense you mean it here, a criterion for distinguishing something. –  Colin Fine Nov 8 '12 at 20:42
    
@ColinFine: I don't see the distinction you're making: All of them are great speakers. Therefore, they do not prize the ability to speak. What's the missing premise here? "Great speakers don't prize the ability to speak."? –  user21497 Nov 8 '12 at 22:53

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