Modals of Ability in English

English modals, modals of ability in english;


Modals of Ability in English



We use the modal CAN to talk about ability in the present.

  • I can speak English
  • You can drink my tea and read my book then.
  • I can meet you tomorrow.
  • She is old. She can’t play tennis.
  • Can I ask a question?



We use the modal verb COULD to talk about ability in the past.

  • When I was 6, I could ride a bike.
  • We couldn’t go out.
  • What could they draw? They could draw a horse.
  • He could speak seven languages in thirties.

As can and could cannot be used to talk ability in all tenses, we use BE ABLE TO in other tenses.

  • They are not able to write correctly.
  • Will they be able to find the key?
  • Will she be able to cope with the work?
  • The child is not yet able to write.

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