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Can, Could, Be able to

        modals
You use CAN to               You can also use BE
describe an ability in       ABLE TO to describe an
the present.                 ability in the present.

 Annie can swim, but       He's able to park a car,
  she can't ride a bike.     but he's not able to
 I can play the guitar      drive in traffic yet.
  and sing.                 He’s crazy. He thinks
                             he is able to stop time
                             with his mind.
You use CAN to               You can also use BE
describe an ability in       ABLE TO to describe an
the present.                 ability in the present.

 Annie can swim, but       He's able to park a car,
  she can't ride a bike.     but he's not able to
 I can play the guitar      drive in traffic yet.
  and sing.                 He’s crazy. He thinks
                             he is able to stop time
                             with his mind.
In the PRESENT, the only difference between CAN and
  BE ABLE TO, is that CAN is more common and BE
             ABLE TO is more formal.
use WAS/ WERE ABLE TO
                                if you are talking about
use COULD to describe a         what happened in a
general ability in the past.    particular situation.


 My father could speak         Jack and John played a
  five languages.                tennis match yesterday
 He was a very good             and John was able to
  tennis player. He could        beat Jack.
  beat anybody.                 There was a fire, but we
                                 were able to scape.
But in the negatiave, you can use COULDN’T in both
cases:


 My father couldn’t         There was a big fire
  swim.                       and some people
 I couldn’t read when        coulnd’t escape.
  I was 5.                   Yesterday Jack
                              couldn’t beat John.
For forms and tenses other than present or past, you
have to use BE ABLE TO.


 We haven't been able to play tennis for a long
  time. (Present Perfect)
 I won’t be able to be there tomorrow.
  (Future)
 I’ve always wanted to be able to dance. (To-
  infinitive)
 etc.

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Can, Could, Be able to

  • 1. Can, Could, Be able to modals
  • 2. You use CAN to You can also use BE describe an ability in ABLE TO to describe an the present. ability in the present.  Annie can swim, but  He's able to park a car, she can't ride a bike. but he's not able to  I can play the guitar drive in traffic yet. and sing.  He’s crazy. He thinks he is able to stop time with his mind.
  • 3. You use CAN to You can also use BE describe an ability in ABLE TO to describe an the present. ability in the present.  Annie can swim, but  He's able to park a car, she can't ride a bike. but he's not able to  I can play the guitar drive in traffic yet. and sing.  He’s crazy. He thinks he is able to stop time with his mind. In the PRESENT, the only difference between CAN and BE ABLE TO, is that CAN is more common and BE ABLE TO is more formal.
  • 4. use WAS/ WERE ABLE TO if you are talking about use COULD to describe a what happened in a general ability in the past. particular situation.  My father could speak  Jack and John played a five languages. tennis match yesterday  He was a very good and John was able to tennis player. He could beat Jack. beat anybody.  There was a fire, but we were able to scape.
  • 5. But in the negatiave, you can use COULDN’T in both cases:  My father couldn’t  There was a big fire swim. and some people  I couldn’t read when coulnd’t escape. I was 5.  Yesterday Jack couldn’t beat John.
  • 6. For forms and tenses other than present or past, you have to use BE ABLE TO.  We haven't been able to play tennis for a long time. (Present Perfect)  I won’t be able to be there tomorrow. (Future)  I’ve always wanted to be able to dance. (To- infinitive)  etc.