He is highly [respected/respectable] owing to his good manners and gratefulness.

I know the difference but I can't decide which one to choose, either he is respected (the passive form)or he is respectable as he has got good manners.

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  • Welcome to ELU site. Please read first english.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask and make your question more like this :) – Honza Zidek Feb 20 '15 at 17:39
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    A guy holding a gun to your head is "respected" (if you know what's good for you). But likely he's not "respectable". – Hot Licks Feb 20 '15 at 22:29
  • So what's the answer? – user111273 Feb 21 '15 at 0:26

"Respectable" strictly means "worth respecting", although it more frequently means something like "conforms to societal norms".

"Respected" means that people do actually respect them.

Sometimes these are not the same thing. For example a person who does everything that is required by society, yet for some reason is not liked, may be respectable but not respected. A highly intelligent critic who refuses to conform to society's values may be respected but not respectable.

  • So the answer should be respectable as he actually has good manners? – user111273 Feb 20 '15 at 18:07
  • I'm not sure the meaning of respectable is as strict as you say. – John Smith Jun 18 '15 at 23:10

Respected is the past participle form of respect. It can be parsed as the passive past participle, implying: People (the implied agent) respect him highly, because of his etiquette and gratitude. Others might want to parse respected as a predicate adjective, but that would be a redundant manipulation of the participial form.

Respectable is the adjectival derivative of respect with the suffix -able:


Forming adjectives meaning:

  1. Able to be:


  1. Due to be:


  1. Subject to:


4 Relevant to or in accordance with:


  1. Having the quality to:


Respectable carries a meaning very similar to respected:


1.0 Regarded by society to be good, proper, or correct:

They thought the stage no life for a respectable lady.

1.1 (Of a person’s appearance, clothes, or behavior) decent or presentable:

In some situations the participial adjective respected and the derivative respectable can create a subtle distinction between the way people feel about it and the quality that makes them feel that way. Sometimes that distinction is overlooked.


  • Considering "the quality that makes them feel that way", would it be better to say "the ability to make them feel that way?" – Good A.M. Mar 7 '15 at 20:01
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    That would be an acceptable expression, but the fifth entry under the suffix is having the quality to. – ScotM Mar 7 '15 at 23:49

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