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  1. #1
    tom3m is offline Senior Member
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    Default be able to vs could

    In Michael Lewis's book The English Verb: An Exploration of Structure and Meaning I found this:

    My doctor can say I can see you tomorrow or I ’m able to see you tomorrow.
    Both are possible, and they are different. Difference of form implies difference
    of meaning, and that difference can be understood.
    How do the sentences in bold differ in meaning.?

  2. #2
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: be able to vs could

    I see no difference in intended meaning between "I'm able to see you tomorrow" and "I can see you tomorrow."

    What does Mr. Lewis say is different about them?
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. #3
    tom3m is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: be able to vs could

    I do not know. Here is the full paragraph:

    8. Paradigms do not need to be complete


    My doctor can say I can see you tomorrow or I ’m able to see you tomorrow.
    Both are possible, and they are different. Difference of form implies difference
    of meaning, and that difference can be understood. In those
    circumstances it is nonsense to pretend that “the infinitive of can is to be
    able to.

    But I would let it go if it conveys the same meaning.

  4. #4
    bhaisahab's Avatar
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    Default Re: be able to vs could

    I don't find "I'm able to see you tomorrow" to be a very natural sentence.

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: be able to vs could

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    I don't find "I'm able to see you tomorrow" to be a very natural sentence.
    Nether do I, but if I heard it, I would assume a greater degree of concession from the doctor- squeezing me in to a busy schedule.

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