English Grammar


can/be able to

Hi everybody!


I would like to know what is the difference between the verbs: can and To be able to.
I thought that the meaning was the same but we would use "to be able to" when we need to use the verb can in a futur or past tense, for example,it is not possible to say: I will can, so it is used: I was able to...


But, I don´t know if I´m correct, so, does anybody know the answer?
thancks!

4 comments

  • From Ophelia:
    Hi everybody!


    I would like to know what is the difference between the verbs: can and To be able to.
    I thought that the meaning was the same but we would use "to be able to" when we need to use the verb can in a futur or past tense, for example,it is not possible to say: I will can, so it is used: I was able to...


    But, I don´t know if I´m correct, so, does anybody know the answer?
    thancks!

     
  • If something prevents you from doing, you re not able to do.
    If you never learnt how to do, you cannot do.
    If you don't have the ability to do, you cannot do.
    That's what I learned in my yesterday lesson.
  • Hi Ophelia,


    Gee has given you a perfect explanation of the use of can and to be able to in the present.
    Let’s have a look at the other tenses:


    Past Simple
    1) Could is used for a general ability to do something
    Ex. My grandfather could speak five languages.
    2) Was/were able to is used for one particular situation= a synonym of managed to+inf.
    Ex. When the fire started, I was able to escape


    All the other tenses: to be able to
    Fut.simple= will be able to
    Present cond=would be able to
    Past cond= would have been able to
    Present Perfect Simple= has/have been able to
    Past perfect Simple= had been able to


    Be careful
    1. After a preposition, we always use the “ing form”.
    Ex. Before being able to (not canning!) speak fluently, you will have to work a lot.


    2. After other modal verbs (must, may, should etc) you must use “be able to” (not can)
    Ex. You should be able to understand this.


    If you can’t, drop me a line…
  • Thanks you very much!
    Everything is clear now :)

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