Can or be able to

Study the sentence given below.

  • He will be able to solve this problem.

We can express the same idea using can.

  • He can solve this problem.

‘Will be able to’ is the simple future tense of ‘can’. ‘Is/am/are able to’ is similar to ‘can’ and is used to express present ability. ‘Was/were able to’ is similar to ‘could’.

Exercise

Rewrite the following sentences using be able to.

1. My mother can bake delicious cakes.

2. When I was young, I could ride a bicycle.

3. Next year, Shyam can drive a car.

4. He can walk on his hands.

5. Sushma can speak English really well.

Answers

1. My mother is able to bake delicious cakes.

2. When I was young, I was able to ride a bicycle.

3. Next year, Shyam will be able to drive a car.

4. He is able to walk on his hands.

5. Sushma is able to speak English really well.

‘Can’ and ‘be able to’ are both possible in some cases. However, in some cases, only ‘be able to’ is possible.

For example, ‘can’ is not possible in the simple future tense.

One day, I will be able to find a good job. (NOT One day, I will can find a good job.)

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Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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