Open Menu
Be able to UNIT 9 - part of lesson M
Touch a word or the <play> button for sound
Click on a word or on the <play> button for sound
Click on a word or on the red <play> button for sound

The expression "be able to" means the same as "can", but it is used differently.


The special verb CAN and the normal verb BE ABLE TO have the same meaning.

- She's able to speak German = She can speak German
- I'm not able to do that = I can't do that
- Are you able to drive a bus? = Can you drive a bus?

The verb CAN is "defective", it is only used in the present, past and conditional:

present --> You can dance very well
past --> I could climb trees when I was a child
conditional --> I could help you if you let me

So for the rest of tenses we can only use the form BE ABLE TO.

future --> If you practise a lot, you will be able to do it  (not: you will can do it)
infinitive --> I want to be able to finish in time
present perfect --> She has never been able to sit for more than 5 minutes

© Angel Castaño 2008 Salamanca / Poole - free videos to learn real English online || M-E widgetsInfoPrivacyTerms of useContactAboutwhy?
This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read more