능력, 실력, 재능 – Korean Words vs. Words S2 #14

To complete works, we need various kinds of abilities. Koreans use 능력, 실력, 재능 for abilities. We will learn the difference between them.

능력

능력 is the power or strength you need to cope with or handle the work.

그는 문제 해결 능력이 모자라다.
He has little problem-solving ability.

내게는 네 소원을 들어줄 능력이 없다.
I don't have any power to fulfill your request.

실력

실력 is power or strength you have.

그는 뛰어난 수학 실력을 가지고 있다.
He has an exceptional math ability.

그들은 이번 시합에서 실력을 제대로 발휘하지 못했다.
They couldn't show their real ability in the last match.

능력 and 실력 are all abilities. However, 실력 is used for something concrete, not abstract, because 실 in 실력(實力) is the same 실 in 실제(實際), real. Because of that, in front of 실력, something you can measure comes out like 수학 실력(math ability), 영어 실력(English ability), 한국어 실력(Korean ability), 축구 실력(Soccer ability), etc. However, in front of 능력, there are many abstract and hard to test or compare abilities like 문제 해결 능력(problem solving skills), 의사 소통 능력(communication skills), 업무 처리 능력(ability for handling tasks in companies), etc.

재능

If some ability is acquired when you were born or by hard work, it is called 재능. 재능 can mean both natural talents or skills you got from endless efforts.

거의 모든 사람이 약간의 음악적 재능은 가지고 있다.
Almost everyone always has a little musical talent.

저마다 다른 재능을 가진 학생들이 모여 대단한 성과를 냈다.
The students who have various kinds of talents made a great success.