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  1. Zun
    Guest
    #1

    Unhappy Modal

    Hello
    My grammar book says,
    We use will be abe to, not can, to say that something will be possible in the future:
    ①If the snow carries on like this, very few people will be able to get to the concert.
    ②When the new road is built, I'll be able to drive to work in under half an hour.
    However, when we make a decision now about something in the future, we use can:
    ③You can go home when you've finished writing your composition.
    ④Perhaps we can meet next week.

    I understood most of them, but now, about ④, why I can't say,
    "Perhaps we will be able to meet next week." ?

    Thank you.


    • Join Date: Mar 2005
    • Posts: 54
    #2

    Re: Modal

    Quote Originally Posted by Zun
    Hello

    I understood most of them, but now, about ④, why I can't say,
    "Perhaps we will be able to meet next week." ?

    Thank you.
    I think 'be able to..' is possible instead of can, but can is more usual. (ex 4)
    Can has only 2 forms: can (present) and could (past). So if you talk about future happenings, you have to use 'be able to' (ex: 1 and 2)

  2. #3

    Re: Modal

    Thank you for your response.

    I have believed that I could say,"I can meet you next week."
    So, it means "can" be used in the furure tense as well as present and past tense.
    Am I wrong ?


    • Join Date: Mar 2005
    • Posts: 54
    #4

    Re: Modal

    Quote Originally Posted by Zun
    Hello
    ③You can go home when you've finished writing your composition.
    ④Perhaps we can meet next week.
    Can cannot theorically be used with a future tense
    ..I don't know how to say (and I may be wrong)...The difference between sentences 1, 2 and 3, 4, is that the event is time-framed, at the time of speaking. I mean, 'when you've finished writing your composition' and 'next week' make the use of 'can' possible because we talk about immediate future/things that are going to happen very soon.

    I'm sorry, I'm not sure about the clarity and reliability of my explanation ...We have to wait for somebody who masters English better than I do!
    Last edited by ruofei; 24-Mar-2005 at 17:09.

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    #5

    Re: Modal

    While 'can' is a present tense, it can be used to refer to future time. We don't have to use 'will be able to'.

    Perhaps we can meet next week.
    Perhaps we will be able to meet next week.

    These are both possible and correct. We could use the past tense:

    Perhaps we could meet next week.

    The difference is in the way the speaker sees the potential meeting. I'd use 'could' if trying to make a meeting that I wasn't sure about, leaving room for the other person to so no. I'd use 'be able to' if we both have tight schedules and may need to try to negotiate a time that is convenient.


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