Ability in the future: Can vs Will be able to?

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sevanap

New Member
Polish
Hi guys

2nd post and soon I got how should I behave here at WR!:)

According to the text of the Oxford Grammar Course (Intermediate) book by Swan & Walter, p.83,

Ability in the future:

+ we Can use 'can' if we are deciding now what to do in the future.
+ In other cases, we use 'will be able to'.


8) I'm free at the weekend, so the kids .......... come round. ==> I think can is correct because the speaker is deciding to allow the kids to come round in the weekend.

10) We're busy this weekend, but we .......... repair it by next Thursday. ==> I think can is correct because the speaker is deciding when exactly what to do the next Thursday.

11) I ........... pay on Saturday - I promise. ==> I think can is correct because the speaker is deciding (and consequently promising) what to do on Saturday.

The answer key has chosen WILL BE ABLE TO for 8, 10 and 11 o_O

I need some help with the questions number 8, 10 and 11. I really hope that someone here got a deep knowledge of grammar and explain to me why we can't use Can in these three questions? Why have we to use Will be able to?

Is it possible that the answer key be wrong?

Thanks
 
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  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    This book is talking nonsense. Your answers are what many, if not most, native speakers would use. Only for no. 11 is "will be able" a serious contender.

    (I'm not sure why something calling itself an "Oxford" grammar course is using the Americanism "on the weekend". Perhaps it's from Oxford Kentucky?)
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Yes, 'can' is more natural for 8 and 10, for the reasons you give. In 11 the speaker is not strictly deciding to pay on Saturday: they want to pay as soon as they can, but can't today, so it's more a simple statement about the future.
     

    sevanap

    New Member
    Polish
    This book is talking nonsense. Your answers are what many, if not most, native speakers would use. Only for no. 11 is "will be able" a serious contender.

    (I'm not sure why something calling itself an "Oxford" grammar course is using the Americanism "on the weekend". Perhaps it's from Oxford Kentucky?)
    Thanks, Mr. Bradford :thumbsup:
    What a relief!

    You right.
    Sorry ... You should have guessed it was just a typo (and actually my fault!), not by the book calling itself Oxford Course! At least it seems more serious contender! :)
    Edited.

    To be honest, before I submit the question, I taught that 'can' for #11 would be the one which accepted by the most of you guys without any shadow of doubt! But you're saying exactly the opposite! "...Will be able is more preferable in that question!.."

    So could you please give me some explanation spcificly for the last one? Why don't you think it's just a deciding at the moment of speaking to what to do in the following Sat?
     

    sevanap

    New Member
    Polish
    Yes, 'can' is more natural for 8 and 10, for the reasons you give. In 11 the speaker is not strictly deciding to pay on Saturday: they want to pay as soon as they can, but can't today, so it's more a simple statement about the future.
    Thanks, entangledbank:thumbsup:

    Did you consider the last part of the question?

    I ........... pay on Saturday - I promise

    He is somehow emphasizing that paying on Sat isn't just a speculation actually, he's promising in order to emphasize that it's a decision. If someone tells me that he pays me at the weekend, I really suppose he has decided to pay exactly at that time, not as soon as possible! At least for me, it's going on like this ..
     
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    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Both parties know that I ought to pay you as soon as possible. (Except for unusual circumstances) I have to pay you on the earliest day I can. I'm not choosing a day to pay on. So that's why it's not a decision on my part. Saying I will pay on Saturday implies I can't pay before that. Adding the promise reassures you that I will be able to pay you on that day; it won't be after that, you can rest assured.
     

    sevanap

    New Member
    Polish
    Both parties know that I ought to pay you as soon as possible. (Except for unusual circumstances) I have to pay you on the earliest day I can. I'm not choosing a day to pay on. So that's why it's not a decision on my part. Saying I will pay on Saturday implies I can't pay before that. Adding the promise reassures you that I will be able to pay you on that day; it won't be after that, you can rest assured.
    Thanks, I got it right now.

    For clarifying, let me write here the title of that exercise word by word : Put in Can or Can't if possible; if not, use will(won't) be able to.

    So for a nice ending, please let alone the actual meaning of those two modals and the subtle difference between them, what do you say for the correct answer to those exercises?

    I mean we are talking about an ESL book from a leading press of World English. The authors know both Can an Will be able to are correct. They are saying in the first line of the page "we CAN use 'can' if we are deciding now.." so it implies that they know that both of them are fine and correct. However, they wanna tell us sometimes 'can' CAN be used and the students are supposed to know when it should be.

    So as a whole, they mean we CAN use 'can'. Actually, they aren't saying we MUST use 'can' if we're deciding now.


    Now as a Native Speaker may you please help me know what's the actual answer to these ESL book questions? I'm not talking about a subtle difference between those two modals in real life. I just want to know the supposed correct answer by authors for the exercises. So please just focus on the information provided by the author and help me solve some routine exercises from a textbook!
     
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    sevanap

    New Member
    Polish
    Both parties know that I ought to pay you as soon as possible. (Except for unusual circumstances) I have to pay you on the earliest day I can. I'm not choosing a day to pay on. So that's why it's not a decision on my part. Saying I will pay on Saturday implies I can't pay before that. Adding the promise reassures you that I will be able to pay you on that day; it won't be after that, you can rest assured.
    What do you say if you wanna ignore real-life and just answer those 12questions and get the max score(12/12)? What will be your answer to #8,#10#,#11? Note that please, the author just saying we can use 'can', it's not necessary. So tell me please as a native speaker among those questions which ones satisfy the needed bolded condition (Deciding Now) to be able to use "CAN" too? I'm just wanna make sure the answer key (even according to what the authors are saying) is wrong
     
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    Joseph A

    Senior Member
    Kurdish
    Hello everyone,
    Could you please tell me if it is okay to use "can" in the following sentences?
    1. Engineers can offer a solution.
    2. The scientists can find a cure for the disease.
    3. The scientists can find a cure for the disease in the future.
    Or should I use "will be able to"?
    Regards,
    Joseph
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Could you please tell me if it is okay to use "can" in the following sentences?
    1. Engineers can offer a solution.
    2. The scientists can find a cure for the disease.
    3. The scientists can find a cure for the disease in the future.
    Or should I use "will be able to"?
    You can use "can" in both (1) and (2), but it implies that they're able to do those things now.

    In (3) where the clear inference is they haven't found a cure yet, but hope to be able to find a cure one day, you need "will be able to". :)
     

    Joseph A

    Senior Member
    Kurdish
    You can use "can" in both (1) and (2), but it implies that they're able to do those things now.

    In (3) where the clear inference is they haven't found a cure yet, but hope to be able to find a cure one day, you need "will be able to". :)
    Thanks a lot, dear moderator👍.
     

    Joseph A

    Senior Member
    Kurdish
    You can use "can" in both (1) and (2), but it implies that they're able to do those things now.

    In (3) where the clear inference is they haven't found a cure yet, but hope to be able to find a cure one day, you need "will be able to". :)
    Excuse me DonnyB.
    I have another question. Is either "are able to" or "will be able to" correct in the following sentence?
    Last year, our team was not able to even win one F1 race, but we were able to develop a better engine last winter, and so we think we........(a. are able to b. will be able to) do better this year.
    I think both "a" and "b" are correct.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Excuse me DonnyB.
    I have another question. Is either "are able to" or "will be able to" correct in the following sentence?
    Last year, our team was not able to even win one F1 race, but we were able to develop a better engine last winter, and so we think we........(a. are able to b. will be able to) do better this year.
    I think both "a" and "b" are correct.
    Not for me. Will be able to do better this year is the only one which works. This year is clearly talking about the future, later this year.
     

    Joseph A

    Senior Member
    Kurdish
    Not for me. Will be able to do better this year is the only one which works. This year is clearly talking about the future, later this year.
    Thanks a lot,
    Could you please tell me if it is okay to use "can" as well as follows?
    Last year, our team was not able to even win one F1 race, but we were able to develop a better engine last winter, and so we think we can do better this year.
    Regards,
    Joseph
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Could you please tell me if it is okay to use "can" as well as follows?
    Last year, our team was not able to even win one F1 race, but we were able to develop a better engine last winter, and so we think we can do better this year.
    That "can" looks absolutely fine to me, yes. :)
     
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