Difference Between Ability and Aptitude

Several terminologies are used interchangeably in everyday use. Likewise, the word’s ability and aptitude are often used invariably in our daily lives. Both words refer to the competence of an individual in performing certain tasks. However, ability and aptitude are not identical. There are differences in the meaning, nature, sense, and type of both ability and aptitude. 

Ability vs Aptitude 

The main difference between ability and aptitude is that while ability is the natural ability to acquire knowledge or skill, aptitude refers to the condition of being suitable for a particular skill. Ability has both a natural and practical application. In contrast, aptitude has a practical application. There are several different types of both ability and aptitude. 

Ability vs Aptitude 1

Ability refers to the power to do something. Ability is a skill that is prevalent in an individual at the present moment. While one individual has the ability to sing well, another individual may have the ability to paint well. By definition, the word ability means the quality of being able. For instance, the ability of the soil to hold water. The word ability first came into use in the 14th century. 

Aptitude refers to the innate or acquired capacity to perform a task. Aptitude may connote the inclination or tendency for a particular skill. For instance, an aptitude for hard work. The word aptitude first came into use in the 15th century. Some types of aptitude include physical aptitude, linguistic aptitude, and organisational aptitude. Aptitude tests have a practical application in the hiring process. 

Comparison Table Between Ability and Aptitude 

Parameters of ComparisonAbility Aptitude 
MeaningAbility is the knowledge to perform a task. Aptitude is classified as a natural talent.
Measurement Ability can not be measured. Aptitude is measurable. 
SenseAbility is used with reference to expertise.Aptitude is used with reference to talent. 
NatureAbility is a skill. Aptitude is an underlying potential.
Type Ability may be specific or general, effective or transparent. Aptitude can be linguistic, logical, physical, organisational, and so on.

What is Ability?

Ability refers to the talents that an individual possesses beforehand. An ability is generally classified as an intelligent power. An ability is guided by the intent of a person and the successful execution of an ability results in an action. There are several common abilities such as walking, dancing, or singing. However, there are some rare abilities like performing a headstand. A direct antonym of ability is the inability to do something. Some synonyms of ability are power and competency. 

While ability is closely linked to aptitude, potential, skill, and disposition, there are some stark contrasts. There are two types of abilities: general ability and specific ability. General ability refers to the ability possessed by an individual regardless of their situation. In contrast, specific ability refers to the ability possessed by an individual with respect to a specific situation. For instance, while a guitarist has the potential to play several different types of guitars, he lacks the corresponding specific ability if they are pinned to a wall or heavily drunk.

Although all abilities are viewed as powers, all powers are not categorised as abilities. Ability may also refer to the physical or mental competency to perform activities. For instance, an athlete has the ability to run faster than a normal individual. Another example is that an artist has significantly more artistic ability than a doctor or a surgeon. 

There are several theories of ability, including the conditional analysis, modal approach, and the dispositional approach. An ability may be effective or transparent. While an ability that results from luck may be classified as effective ability, transparent ability connotes a stronger sense of competency driven by expertise. 

What is Aptitude?

Aptitude refers to the underlying potential of acquiring skills. It is only a combination of aptitude and interest that leads to success in life. Individuals with a considerably high aptitude in a field are often referred to as talented. For instance, musicians and artists are often considered talented in their respective fields. 

An aptitude may either be mental or physical. By definition, aptitude refers to developed knowledge, understanding, acquired abilities or attitude. The basic element of aptitude is that it is acquired through learning. There are several types of aptitude tests including the generalised aptitude tests and the multiple aptitude tests. Such aptitude tests are often used by employers to assess the underlying potential of the job candidate. Such tests may assess the ability of an individual in a wide variety of fields such as problem solving, decision making, and numerical skills. 

Some types of aptitude tests are abstract reasoning test, clerical aptitude test, verbal reasoning test, general aptitude test, logical reasoning test, and spatial reasoning test. While one individual may have an aptitude for math and logic, another may have an aptitude for engineering and mechanics. Thus, different individuals may possess different aptitudes. 

Logical aptitude is one of the most common types of aptitude. Such an aptitude allows individuals to arrive at logical solutions to varied problems. Spatial aptitude enables an individual to perceive spatial relationships in an effective manner. Some other types of aptitude include physical aptitude, linguistic aptitude, mechanical aptitude, and organisational aptitude. 

Main Differences Between Ability and Aptitude 

  1. While ability is used with reference to expertise, aptitude is used with reference to talent. 
  2. Ability is a skill. On the other hand, aptitude is an underlying potential. 
  3. While ability is immeasurable, aptitude can be measured using various aptitude tests. 
  4. Ability may be specific or general, effective or transparent. In contrast, aptitude can be linguistic, logical, physical, organisational, and so on.
  5. While ability is the knowledge to perform a task, aptitude is classified as a natural talent. 


Thus, ability and aptitude vary on several grounds. An ability is guided by the intent of a person. In contrast, aptitude refers to developed knowledge, acquired abilities or attitude. Aptitude tests have the potential to reveal an individual’s primary mental abilities. 

There are several different ability and aptitude tests that are administered to measure the horsepower of an individual. Some of the most common applications of such tests are for university admissions, professions, recruitment, and selection. 


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ability 
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aptitude 
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