Ability vs Capacity: Difference and Comparison

In this world of competition, before getting any job or applying for any project, we must prove our Ability and Capacity.

These are the essential qualities an employer or a boss looks for in their employee. These two quality proves how well we can do that particular job or work.

Key Takeaways

  1. Ability refers to the possession of a skill or talent, while capacity refers to the ability to hold or contain something.
  2. Ability is more closely related to the concept of competence, while capacity is more closely related to the concept of volume.
  3. Someone can have the ability to do something but not the capacity, or vice versa.

Ability vs Capacity

Ability refers to the inherent skill or talent that someone possesses to perform a particular task. Capacity refers to the intrinsic skill or talent to perform a specific task. Ability is the current skill, while Capacity refers to the potential to develop new skills.

Ability vs Capacity

Language Quiz

Language quiz helps us to increase our language skills

1 / 10

What is the term used to describe the way words are put together to form sentences?

2 / 10

Choose the synonym for the word "clever":

3 / 10

What is a word or phrase used to describe or evaluate, often in a literary, artistic, or musical context, called?

4 / 10

What is the study of the sounds of speech called?

5 / 10

What is the study of language in use and context called?

6 / 10

Choose the word that means the opposite of "approve":

7 / 10

Put ________ bag on ________ table, then give me ________ apple and ________ bar of chocolate.

8 / 10

What is the term used to describe words that modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs?

9 / 10

Who is the person in charge at a high school?

10 / 10

I ______ a reply to my letter in the next few days.

Your score is


Ability refers to our quality to perform a task physically or mentally, and it can also refer to our knowledge, competence, or talent.

It’s also the trait that qualifies us for a specific task or job; it’s the quality that makes us powerful and self-assured. Ability can be divided into two parts:

i) Intellectual Ability, which is related to our mental power and intelligence

ii) Physical Ability is related to physical fitness and body structure.

Capacity is described as the Ability to do something or how much it can accommodate; it can also be referred to as the maximum amount that something can contain. 

Capacity is to perform or produce, the amount that can be contained, and the maximum production possible.

We all have some other Capacity in us, and we go through extreme conditions in our lives, that will be the point when we will understand our actual Capacity.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAbilityCapacity
Meaning What a person can doDescribed as the ability to do something
DefinitionDefined as the skill needed to do somethingIt is used for a human being
Related toSkill and intelligencePower
UsageIt is mainly used for the quantityDescribed as the Ability to do something
ExampleHe has the capacity to handle this job.He can handle this job.

What is Ability?

Ability is the quality or state of being able, the Capacity to do or of doing something or having the necessary power. Ability is the unique power of the mind that helps us make important decisions that make us intelligent and successful.

The skill or competence in doing something is our Ability to prove that we are fit for a particular work; our Ability makes us more popular and adds up to our qualities. Consider the following examples to understand better:

a) This phone can have its software upgraded wirelessly.

b) They are persons of Ability who will go far in life.

c) She has an uncanny ability to defuse conflicts.

The Ability to accomplish a task, whether physical, mental, linguistic or in any other sector, is defined as the competence or competency to do so. Ability is inherited, as a person’s genetic composition determines it.

For example, some people excel at physical sports, while others have a strong sense of rhythm and love dance.

Some people are born with the capacity to handle languages, allowing them to acquire them fast and readily. Others are at ease when performing calculations, allowing them to excel in math.

Ability is a quality that can be present or absent. If one has the Ability, it is easier to assist a person in mastering a task in a relevant area by passing on knowledge and the most recent information.


What is Capacity?

Capacity is described as a person’s or object’s maximum scientific capabilities. For example, when discussing the Capacity of a cylindrical glass, we refer to the most significant amount of fluid it can hold.

In human terms, a person may have the reflexes, speed, and stamina to be a boxer, but his Capacity is how long he can resist his opponent’s punches.

 A sprinter and a marathon runner are pretty different athletes with distinct abilities and capacities. A sprinter can blast out of the blocks due to muscle power.

As a result, if an athlete possesses this skill, he can excel as a sprinter. In contrast, a long-distance runner has far more incredible stamina and endurance, distinct qualities.

The Capacity of a boxer is his Ability to withstand his opponent’s punches for the duration of a fight. Consider the following examples to understand better:

a) The human brain’s Capacity to recognize each detail of speech astounds me.

b) The auditorium has a capacity of 200 people.

c) He can become a doctor.

Even though sometimes human beings exceed their average threshold in times of adversity to save their lives, in general, Capacity remains the upper limit of what they can stand up to.

In most cases, Capacity refers to either/or situations. For example, my car can either go 200 miles per hour or not.

There is no such thing as a degree or a progression. It either has or does not have the Capacity.


Main Differences Between Ability and Capacity

1. Ability refers to skills that can be graded. In most cases, Capability refers to either/or options in a hypothetical situation.

2. Ability is something that one is born with. Capacity, on the other hand, is a result of effort.

3. Ability refers to mental or physical, whereas Capacity refers to Ability or power.

4. Ability is the current quality of an individual, whereas Capacity is the potential that a human can achieve in the future.               

5. Ability is the potential of an individual to do things at their best. In contrast, Capacity, on the other hand, is the maximum amount of work that a person or machine can do without sacrificing quality.

Difference Between Ability and Capacity
  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/tea.3660200204
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF03172772

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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