|> Other English exercises on the same topic: Modals [Change theme]|
|> Similar tests: - Placement test 1 - Modal : may/might - Modal can (video) - Modal verb : must / have to - Modal : can/could - Must / Have to - Modal verbs - Modal verbs|
|> Double-click on words you don't understand|
Modal verbs 2
Can, could, and be able to, talking about ability.
A- We sometimes use be able to instead of can and could to talk about ability. However, we avoid be able to:
=> when we talk about something that is happening as we speak:
- Watch me, Mum; I can stand on one leg, ( not... I'm able to stand on one leg)
=> Before passives:
- CDs can now be copied easily. (rather than CDs are now able to be copied..)
=> When the meaning is know how to:
- Can you cook? (rather than Are you able to cook?)
B- If we talk about a single achievement, rather than a general ability in the past, we usually use be able to rather than could. Compare:
- Sue could play the flute quite well. (or ..was able to...; a general ability) and
- She swam strongly and she was able to cross the river easily, even though it was swollen by the heavy rain. (not She swam strongly and could cross....; a specific achievement)
However, could is usually more natural:
=> In negative sentences:
- I tried to get up but I couldn't move. ( rather than .. I wasn't able to move.)
=> With sense verbs- e.g. feel, hear, see, smell, taste- and with verbs of thinking
e.g.believe,decide, remember, understand:
- I could remember the crash, but nothing after that. ( rather than I was able to remember...)
=> After the phrases the only thing/ place/ time, and after all when it means the only thing:
- All we could see were his feet. (rather than All we were able to ....)
=> To suggest that something almost didn't happen, especially with almost, hardly, just, nearly:
- I could nearly touch the ceiling. ( rather than I was nearly able to... )
Choose the correct or more natural answer.
English exercise "Modal verbs 2" created by felin with The test builder. [More lessons & exercises from felin]
Click here to see the current stats of this English test
Please log in to save your progress.
End of the free exercise to learn English: Modal verbs 2
A free English exercise to learn English.
Other English exercises on the same topic : Modals | All our lessons and exercises