Results 1 to 5 of 5
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Czech
      • Home Country:
      • Czech Republic
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Mar 2011
    • Posts: 705
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #1

    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.?

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2007
    • Posts: 17,933
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #2

    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.

    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Czech
      • Home Country:
      • Czech Republic
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Mar 2011
    • Posts: 705
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #3

    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.

  2. bhaisahab's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England

    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 23,709
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #4

    Re: be able to vs could

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

    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Japan

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 45,829
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #5

    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.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •