'Can' replacing 'be able to'

Via32

Senior Member
Hungarian
Hi,

I injured my leg 2 weeks ago and it still hurts. So I'd like to say:

I haven't been able to go running for 2 weeks.

But I'd prefer to use the verb 'can' as it sounds more informal to me. So can I say either of the following ones?

1. I couldn't go running for 2 weeks.
2. It's been 2 weeks now that I can't go running.


For the first sentence, I'm not sure if it implies that I still can't run, and doesn't just mean that I had 2 weeks sometime in the past when I couldn't run.
About the third, I don't even know if it's grammatically correct!

Can I have some help please?
 
  • Your number 2. is fine.

    Also,[2*:] "I can't run since my injury two weeks ago."

    ADDED: Second preferred for naturalness, fluency.

    Further added because of Loob's, Velisarius', and Andy's input.

    Number 2. does not work for reasons given by these people.
     
    Last edited:

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    1. I couldn't go running for 2 weeks.
    2. It's been 2 weeks now that I can't go running.


    1 Suggests to me that at some time in the past I wasn't able to run for two weeks.
    2 Sounds "foreign" to me. I could say this rather wordy version: It's (been) two weeks now that I haven't been able to go running.

    I prefer the very first version: "I haven't been able to go running for the past two weeks". There's nothing particularly informal about "to be able".
     
    Last edited:

    BixBix

    New Member
    English (British), England
    I think we have a difference between British and American English here. To a British ear, "It's been two weeks now that I can't go running" sounds incorrect. I'm with velisarius - "I haven't been able to go running for two weeks" is preferable and completely informal.
     
    I understood the OP to ask about using 'can' for a particular situation. He tried one proposal which is OK by me in grammar, if a little awkward as to fluency.

    I have added a note as to more graceful and natural wording.

    I can't imagine the difficulty you and Velisarius have.

    Friend: "Will you run with me today?"
    Me: "There's no way I can run today; I injured a tendon last week."

    Are you both saying 'can' is unworkable, unnatural, and/or weird, and that I should say,
    "I'm not able to run today..."? :)

    ADDED: Loob, Velisarius, and Andy have pointed out that my attempt above does not work.



    I don't understand, benny.

    Could you really use 2?
    If so, I'm intrigued....
     
    Last edited:

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    We're talking about the past tense here, benny, and the particular construction "It's been two weeks now that...".
    It isn't really helpful to try to turn this into a question of present tense "can/be able to".

    I repeat that the OP's sentence 2 doesn't work for me.
     
    Last edited:

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    2. It's been 2 weeks now that I can't go running. :cross: in BE at least.
    But I'd prefer to use the verb 'can' as it sounds more informal to me.
    Forget the idea that it is formal: Your perception is wrong. If you are interested in informality: 2a. I've been 2 weeks now not running.
     

    Via32

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Thank you so much everyone!

    I better don't use my 2. second sentence then. And, I learned that 'be able to' is not too formal, so it was all worth it :)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    2. is better, as I stated, since it's a current condition. "could" doesn't work. There are more graceful ways [than 2.] of phrasing using 'can't', which I've given above.:)
    It's nothing to do with gracefulness, for me: "can't" in 2 is just the wrong tense.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I haven't been able to go running for 2 weeks.

    But I'd prefer to use the verb 'can' as it sounds more informal to me.
    Surely the straightforward answer is "You can't. 'Can' does not have a past participle, so cannot be used in a sentence requiring the present perfect".
     
    Andy, (also Velisarius and Loob).

    I see your point. In the OP, the questioner seeks to use 'can for a past state *continuing to present*. While 'can' as ability has a past tense 'could', 'this does not work as in 2.
    Similarly 1. does not work because it's past only.

    So, it's possible to say, "I couldn't run two weeks ago" and "I (still) can't run now" but one
    can't consolidate as in 1. "I couldn't go running for two weeks [meaning up to the present]." 1. in a different situation (not involving the present) would work, "Last month there were two weeks when I couldn't go running."

    In sum 1. and 2. don't work, nor does the attempt to use 'can' for a present perfect situation (past continuing to present).


    < Link removed. Does not deal with topic question. Cagey, moderator>
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    LaVache

    Senior Member
    English- American
    I like bennymix's "I hurt myself two weeks ago and still can't run."


    Here is another example that works.

    Since I hurt myself two weeks ago, I still can't run.
     

    LaVache

    Senior Member
    English- American
    I think we have a difference between British and American English here. To a British ear, "It's been two weeks now that I can't go running" sounds incorrect. I'm with velisarius - "I haven't been able to go running for two weeks" is preferable and completely informal.
    I am American. I agree with you. "It's been two weeks now that I can't go running" sounds incorrect to me as well. "I haven't been able to go running for two weeks" sounds like something I would find natural to say myself.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    There are lots of ways to convey Via32's idea using can/can't.

    But Via32's question was quite specific:
    So can I say either of the following ones?

    1. I couldn't go running for 2 weeks.
    2. It's been 2 weeks now that I can't go running.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    The question was about converting "I haven't been able to go running for 2 weeks" to an equivalent sentence using "can". There isn't one. I can't see the relevance of rewriting a perfectly normal sentence because Via32 wrongly thought that "can" is more informal than using "be able". That's particularly so when the offerings don't actually contain "can" or "could".
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top