...able to and manage to

mrxkms

Senior Member
Arabic-English
Is there a difference between …able to and manage to? Does the context determine which one to use?

Here is an exercise to do, But please don’t think that it is a homework and I want you to do it for me. No I don’t mean that. But there are some gaps in the text that really confuse me since we should pay attention to the tenses used in the text.

I filled the gaps myself but I am still not sure. Gap 5 was really confusing to me.

Complete the story with the correct form of was/wasn’t able to; were/weren’t able to or managed to

One day, some people were discussing the things they (1) were able to do when they were young, and the things they (2) are not able to do now that they were old. One of them said, 'When I was young, I (3) was able to do exactly the same things that I can do now.'

'What do you mean?' the others asked. 'In my garden, there is a heavy stone,' he said. 'I tried to lift it many times when I was young, but I didn’t (4) manage to move it. And when I grew old, I still (5) …………………… lift it. Nothing has changed!'

I do appreciate your kind help.​
Thank you all.​
 
  • Sedulia

    Senior Member
    **Literate** American English
    I'd have a hard time with that exercise myself as a native speaker. The British use "manage to" far more than Americans do.

    "Able to" sounds correct to me in all five places, but if it was me writing, I'd replace 2, 4 and 5 with "manage to." I would say that because the joke of the story is that 4 and 5 are the same, you need to make the verb the same in both.
     

    mrxkms

    Senior Member
    Arabic-English
    In the Key Answer of the book gap 5 is filled with wasn't able to.
    So the sentence will be

    'In my garden, there is a heavy stone,' he said. 'I tried to lift it many times when I was young, but I didn’t (4) manage to move it. And when I grew old, I still (5) was not able to lift it. Nothing has changed!'

    If gap 5 is really filled with was not able to, I think the text will be contradictorily affected.
    If he tried to move it many times when he was young and when he grew old he still was not able to lift it. So how could he say that nothing has changed?

    Is there something wrong? or am I misunderstanding the last part of the text.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    In the Key Answer of the book gap 5 is filled with wasn't able to.
    So the sentence will be

    'In my garden, there is a heavy stone,' he said. 'I tried to lift it many times when I was young, but I didn’t (4) manage to move it. And when I grew old, I still (5) was not able to lift it. Nothing has changed!'

    If gap 5 is really filled with was not able to, I think the text will be contradictorily affected.
    If he tried to move it many times when he was young and when he grew old he still was not able to lift it. So how could he say that nothing has changed?

    Is there something wrong? or am I misunderstanding the last part of the text.
    I think you're misunderstanding. He didn't manage to move the stone (that is, he was not able to lift it) when he was young. When he grew old, he still wasn't able to lift it (couldn't manage to move it). So nothing had changed!
     
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