Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. Junior Member
    Student or Learner
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • German
      • Home Country:
      • Germany
      • Current Location:
      • Japan

    • Join Date: Apr 2020
    • Posts: 41
    #1

    "can" & "be able to" do not always share the same meaning, do they?

    Hello everyone

    We use can to say that something is possible or allowed, or that somebody has the ability to do something.
    Let me use three examples, one for each case:

    1 I can come to your party on Friday.
    2 You can park here.
    3 I can play the guitar.

    But as we all know, can has has only two forms: can (presente tense) and could (past tense). So sometimes it is necessary to use be able to.
    If we use be able to for the above three examples wanting to express the meaings of possible, allowed and ability to do something, it appers to me that be able to does not cover all three meanings as can:

    1 I will be able to come to your party on Friday. (OK: able to conveys the meaning of "possibility")
    2. You will be able to park here. (This appers to me not to convey the meaining of "being allowed to")
    3. I will be able to play the guitar (Ok: able to, of course, conveys the meaning of "being able to do something")

    Therefore, I think that in sentence 2 be able to doesn't work well. It should be rather written as follows:

    You will be allowed to park here.

    What is your opinion on this?
    Thanks in advance

  2. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
    VIP Member
    Other
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Jan 2009
    • Posts: 6,370
    #2

    Re: "can" & "be able to" do not always share the same meaning, do they?

    Quote Originally Posted by misu View Post
    Hello everyone

    We use can to say that something is possible or allowed, or that somebody has the ability to do something.
    Let me use three examples, one for each case:

    1 I can come to your party on Friday.
    2 You can park here.
    3 I can play the guitar.

    But as we all know, can has has only two forms: can (presente tense) and could (past tense). So sometimes it is necessary to use be able to.
    If we use be able to for the above three examples wanting to express the meaings of possible, allowed and ability to do something, it appers to me that be able to does not cover all three meanings as can:

    1 I will be able to come to your party on Friday. (OK: able to conveys the meaning of "possibility.")
    2. You will be able to park here. (This appears to me not to convey the meaning of "being allowed to.")
    3. I will be able to play the guitar (OK: able to, of course, conveys the meaning of "being able to do something.")

    Therefore, I think that in sentence 2 be able to doesn't work well. It should be rather written as follows:

    You will be allowed to park here.

    What is your opinion on this?
    Thanks.
    You're right that it shifts away from the idea of permission. But I think it would be understood.

    If you want to make it clearer that I'll be allowed to park there, you could put it that way: "You'll be allowed to park here."
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  3. Junior Member
    Student or Learner
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • German
      • Home Country:
      • Germany
      • Current Location:
      • Japan

    • Join Date: Apr 2020
    • Posts: 41
    #3

    Re: "can" & "be able to" do not always share the same meaning, do they?

    Yes, as I also said, I would also rather use the form "be allowed to" instead.
    I simply wanted to know if using "be able to" could be understood as "be allowed do".
    In your opinion, it can.

  4. emsr2d2's Avatar
    Moderator
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 55,445
    #4

    Re: "can" & "be able to" do not always share the same meaning, do they?

    I'm really not sure why you've converted "can" to "will be able to" each time, instead of "is/are able to".

    1. I can come to your party on Friday.
    Depending on context, it could mean either of the following:
    a. I am able to come to your party on Friday. (I am free that evening and I have nothing else to do.)
    b. I am allowed to come to your party on Friday. (I have permission to come to your party.)

    2. You can park here.
    Depending on context, it could mean any of the following:
    a. People are allowed/permitted to park here. (It is not illegal to do so.)
    b. There is no other car in the space. It is empty so it is possible for you to park here.
    c. I am giving you permission to use this space.

    3. I can play the guitar.
    I can think of only one natural context for this.
    a. One of my talents is playing the guitar. (I am capable of getting a tune out of a guitar!)
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  5. Senior Member
    Student or Learner
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Urdu
      • Home Country:
      • Pakistan
      • Current Location:
      • Pakistan

    • Join Date: Oct 2015
    • Posts: 705
    #5

    Re: "can" & "be able to" do not always share the same meaning, do they?

    Hello everyone

    We use can to say that something is possible or allowed, or that somebody has the ability to do something.
    Let me use three examples, one for each case:

    1 I can come to your party on Friday.
    2 You can park here.
    3 I can play the guitar.

    But as we all know, can has has only two forms: can (presente tense) and could (past tense). So sometimes it is necessary to use be able to.
    If we use be able to for the above three examples wanting to express the meaings of possible, allowed and ability to do something, it appers to me that be able to does not cover all three meanings as can:

    1 I will be able to come to your party on Friday. (OK: able to conveys the meaning of "possibility.")
    2. You will be able to park here. (This appears to me not to convey the meaning of "being allowed to.")
    3. I will be able to play the guitar (OK: able to, of course, conveys the meaning of "being able to do something.")

    Therefore, I think that in sentence 2 be able to doesn't work well. It should be rather written as follows:

    You will be allowed to park here.

    What is your opinion on this?
    Thanks.
    .
    *Not a teacher*

Posting Permissions

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