I read the following question on meta: Questions incapable of a simple answer

Now I am confused: Is that a possible correct usage of "(in)capable"? Can a question be capable of an answer?

Wouldn't it have to be "incapable of being answered"? Or am I just confused by the possibly different usage of the German (my native language) "fähig"?

  • Rather than looking to validate the use of incapable, we should see if a better word exists.
    – Kris
    Sep 17, 2012 at 11:00

1 Answer 1


The usage is acceptable, if I correctly understand the third sense of incapable in OED 1:

“Of such a nature, or in such a condition, as not to allow or admit of; not admitting or susceptible of. ... Equivalent to ‘that cannot’ with an infinitive passive; e.g. incapable of measurement, or incapable of being measured”.

  • Thank you for the quick answer. With more research I should have been able to find something like this myself. +1 (for now) Sep 17, 2012 at 6:40
  • @AlexanderKosubek "more research" goes before posting a question on ELU, or at least, before someone answers it! Good luck next time.
    – Kris
    Sep 17, 2012 at 10:57
  • @kris I should have written "even more" research, as I did some research before posting. And I know, mea culpa. I pledge to better myself! Sep 17, 2012 at 11:01

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