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    • Join Date: Feb 2008
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    Exclamation could and was aable to

    what is the different between could and was able to

    • Join Date: Jan 2008
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    Re: could and was aable to

    (not a teacher).
    To talk about ABILITY in the past you can use both but 'could' expresses ability in general, i.e. at any time - (I could read when I was four) whereas 'was/were able to' refers to a particular occasion - (I was able to read her letter in spite of her terrible handwriting). If you find this distinction difficult try using 'managed to' or 'succeded in' instead of 'was/were able to'. In negative sentences both can be used with no difference when expressing ABILITY.
    Hope you find this helpful.

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    Re: could and was aable to

    Hi afous80,

    You could personally (in the flesh) compare "could" and "was able to" in this example:

    "Jack was an excellent tennis player. He could beat anybody." (=He had the ability to beat anybody.)

    "But once he had a difficult game against Bob. Bob played very well, but in the en Jack was able to beat him." (= He managed to beat him in this particular game.)




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