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Talking about Abilities

Talking about Abilities

In this lesson we will learn talking about abilities and how to express that you have power or skill to do something in present, past and future.

1. Can you play the piano?Yes, but not very well.
2. How about the guitar?(I can play) a little.
3. Can Billy ride a bike?No, he can’t. He’s too young.
4. Does Abby speak Mandarin?Yes, she speaks very well.
5. Do you sing?Not really. I have no talent in that area.
6. Is Connie good at dancing?Yes, she’s a great dancer.
7. Do you know how to use a computer?Of course!


How to talk about ability?

We use “can” and “be able to” when we express about our power or skill to do something.

  • I can’t swim.
  • I’m unable to swim.
  • I’m not able to swim.
  • I am able to write with both hands.
  • Can you speak Japanese? – Yes, I can.
  • I was able to earn a lot of money when I was young. ?

Expressing ability

In the present:

We use the present tense to express ability we can do now.

  • I can cook for a hundred people.
  • I can’t ride the bike for 10 hours.

In the past

We use the past tense to express the ability we can do in the past.

  • I couldn’t win the prize last year.
  • I could run very fast when I was 25 years old.
  • I was able to sing beautifully when I was at school.

In the future

We can use the future tense to express the ability we can do in the future.

  • I will be able to visit you if I go there on holiday.
  • He can answer any questions if you don’t understand the lesson.

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