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Can vs. be able to

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by fabry2811, Dec 11, 2007.

  1. fabry2811

    fabry2811 Senior Member

    Sicily/Rome
    Italy - Italian
    Ciao a tutti!

    Mi spiegate per favore quando è preferibile usare TO CAN e quando invece TO BE ABLE TO?

    Può essere solo una differenza di "forma": forse la seconda modalità è più elegante?

    Grazie!

    Fabrizio
     
  2. Josseppe Senior Member

    Florida
    American English
    Tenta questo:

    I can ride a bike / Posso andare in bicicletta

    =

    I am able to ride a bike / Posso andare in bicicletta

    Tutti e due sono lo stesso (in significance). Forse la seconda e` piu` elegante, ma TO CAN e` piu` normale (per me).
     
  3. TrentinaNE Senior Member

    USA
    English (American)
    Actually, there is no infinitive form for can in English (no to can), except in the transitive verb sense.

    In the example Josseppe gave, can might have a more immediate connotation (i.e., I can ride a bike to get to your house, as opposed to walking), while am able to clearly refers to knowing how to ride a bike in general.

    Elisabetta
     
  4. GiovanniO

    GiovanniO Senior Member

    Florida
    English (USA)
    Secondo me, qualche volta, ma non sempre.

    Per esempio, queste frasi vogliono dire la stessa cosa.
    She can play the piano.
    She is able to play the piano.

    Però,
    I would like to be able to play the piano.
    I would like to can ...:cross::cross: (non è possibile usare "can" qui)
     
  5. Murphy

    Murphy Senior Member

    Sicily, Italy
    English, UK
    Prima di tutto, "to can" non esiste;) Can è un "modal verb" e come tale non ha una forma all'infinito. Quindi, se vuoi usare "potere" all'infinito, dovrai usare "to be able to", il cui significato corrisponde. Lo stesso vale per il gerundio. "Canning" ovviamente non esiste, ma "being able to" può essere usato invece.

    Nello stesso modo, "to be able to" può essere usato con altri verbi modali, come "will, would" ecc
    Eg
    I will be able to finish the project if I have more time.
    I would be able to finish the project if I had more time.

    Per quanto riguarda il passato, "was/were able to" può essere usato per dire "essere riuscito a" in un'unica occasione, invece "could" forse dà più l'idea di un'abilità che si aveva al passato.

    Eg. I was able to sing at the concert despite having a bad cold.
    I could sing very well when I was younger.

    Aparte la leggera differenza nell'uso al passato, non c'è veramente una differenza nel senso, ma dire "I am able to" invece di "I can" è certamente più formale, e forse mette più emfasi sulla propria capacità di fare una cosa.
    :)
     
  6. fabry2811

    fabry2811 Senior Member

    Sicily/Rome
    Italy - Italian
    Perfetto, avete chiarito la differenza in modo eccellente.

    Grazie!

    Fabry
     
  7. Giak Senior Member

    Italy / Italian
    Mentre TO BE ABLE TO è chiaramente riferito al concetto di "capacità/abilità", nel caso di "permesso/possibilità" CAN potrebbe essere anche sostituito da MAY se necessario.
    Sbaglio?
     
  8. Murphy

    Murphy Senior Member

    Sicily, Italy
    English, UK
    Non sbagli;)
     
  9. mara7627 New Member

    ITALIANO


    When we talk about a specific, one-time achievement in the past, we use was or were able to. We do not use could.
    Talia was able to finish Sunday’s crossword puzzle in just an hour.
    We do not say, She could finish Sunday’s crossword puzzle in just an hour.


    We can use couldn't or wasn't (or weren't) able to to talk about past inability, including specific, one-time events.
    Talia entered a crossword contest last year. But she wasn’t able to finish the puzzle.
    She couldn’t figure out one of the words.


    For all other forms and tenses we use be able to, not can or could. We use it after to for the infinitive, with the present perfect, and with the future.
    Talia hopes to be able to give Tony an answer soon.

    Our expert hasn’t been able to solve the problem since this morning.

    I hope he’ll be able to solve it by tomorrow.
     
  10. MR1492

    MR1492 Senior Member

    Bowie, MD
    English -USA
    Interesting to read this old post. In fact, I think there is a verb "to can." For example, "I am going to can some vegetables this weekend," would be acceptable.
     
  11. curiosone

    curiosone Senior Member

    Romagna, Italy
    AE - hillbilly ;)
    :thumbsup:

    Also: "I hear your boss is planning to can you."
     

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