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9-M) Be able to UNIT 9 lesson M

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

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