Personal vs personable

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Personal and personable are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation, and are often confused. We will examine the definitions of personal and personable, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Personal may be used as an adjective to mean belonging to a particular individual. Personal might mean private, not for public consumption or it may mean an action involving the actual presence of a certain individual. The word personal is also used to mean something that is related to a body part. In North America, personal is sometimes used as a noun to refer to a classified advertisement written for the purpose of finding someone to have a relationship with. However, these types of printed advertisements are falling by the wayside with the advent of dating apps available on mobile devices. Personal comes from the Latin personalis, which means pertaining to a person.

Personable is an adjective that describes someone who has a pleasant manner, someone who is pleasant to be around and easy to talk to. Someone who is personable is usually a great communicator, with extensive people skills. Someone who is personable can engage anyone in conversation with confidence, skill and insight. An interaction with someone who is personable often involves honesty, openness, and the impression that the person has a great personality. The ability to communicate in a personable manner is one of those strengths that will help one to succeed in life. For instance, in a job interview, the communication skills of the personable candidate will convey an attitude and workplace qualities that most employers are looking for, the ability to relate to a colleague effectively, to demonstrate motivation, to participate in listening to coaching and to contribute to a camaraderie among one’s team. The word personable is derived from the Middle French word personable, meaning pleasing as a person.


Scott Morrison is promising to open an intimate war with Bill Shorten over the next six months, using his clear personal electoral dominance over the Opposition Leader to redefine the political battleground. (The Australian)

Consumers are increasingly ordering menu items that meet that personal definition of health, such as food described as natural, organic, high in protein, sustainably sourced or functional. (Food Business News)

The following count’s font size will be just a hair larger than the followers count size to redirect user focus to themselves instead of to their popularity; in fact, these stats have moved below personal bios to deflate their importance. (The Star)

The man with the perfect 40-fight record says he will transform this weekend, every personable trait inside him will become dulled and he will become his alter ego, the Bronze Bomber. (The Irish Sun)

Prior to playing the pieces, the highly personable, exceptionally talented pianist provided a brief explanation about each one, including the composers’ intention, inspiration or story that the work depicted, thereby creating a picture in the audience’s minds of what the music represented. (The Chicago Tribune)

Sutton was a capable and personable man – and not all who heard his joke were offended by it – but his resignation showed how power and humour could be poor partners. (The New Zealand Herald)