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Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #27021: Modal verb can
Modal verb can
Hello everybody !
English people use CAN in the present tense only ! So for most other tenses English people need to use a form in BE ABLE TO.
I CAN play tennis = I am able to play tennis
=> But we don't usually use BE ABLE TO in the present tense !
For the future English people use WILL/WON'T BE ABLE TO.
For the present perfect English people use HAVE(N'T) / HAS(N'T) / BEEN ABLE TO.
For the past English people use WAS(N'T) / WERE(N'T) / ABLE TO or COULDN'T.
=> There is no difference in meaning between the negative forms ( WASN'T/WEREN'T ABLE TO and COULDN'T).
But there is a difference in meaning between the affimative forms ( WAS/WERE ABLE TO and COULD).
English people use COULD for general ability in the past, during a period of time, but WAS/WERE ABLE TO for success in one situation.
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