Level: beginner

We use can and can't to talk about someone's skill or general abilities:

She can speak several languages.
He can swim like a fish.
They can't dance very well.

We use can and can't to talk about the ability to do something at a specific time in the present or future:

I can see you.
Help! I can't breathe.

We use could and couldn't to talk about the past:

She could speak several languages.
I couldn't see you.

Ability: can and could 1

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Ability: can and could 2

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Level: intermediate

We use could have to say that someone had the ability or opportunity to do something, but did not do it:

She could have learned Swahili, but she didn't want to.
I could have danced all night. [but I didn’t]

Ability: could have 1

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Ability: could have 2

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Comments

Hello chris kim,

No, 'used to live' is not stative. You can see our pages on stative verbs and 'used to' for explanations of these forms.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hi
Is the live (verb) stative verb?

Hello chris kim,

This depends on the context in which it is used. Many verbs can be used in different ways, and this affects their meaning and how they are used. Perhaps you can provide us with an example sentence and we'll be happy to comment on it.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hi there
what is difference among can,manage to and be able to ?

Hello chris kim,

Have you tried using the Cambridge Dictionaries tool on the right of the page to look these up? That will be a good place to start, and you'll see the meaning of 'manage to' is more specific than the others.

'Manage to' means you did something, and it was not easy, so it's some kind of achievement or success

'Can' means you have the ability to do something, but is also used in other contexts (permission, requests etc)

'Able to' is used in a more restricted sense, only to talk about ability.

For example:

I can swim - this could describe physical ability, possibility and permission

I am able to swim - this is generally restricted to physical ability

I managed to swim - this means I succeeded in doing it, though it was not easy for some reason

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hello, I was checking some grammar about modal verbs...in the part of ability, permissions requests, etc...there is an example in the part of Permission... it says we use can to ask for...but in the examples i think there is a mistake, because only one of the examples is a question...it says..Can we go home now ........i think it should say..Can we go home now?
I mention it because someone could missunderstand the example...and get confuse....
Or probably Im confuse....or wrong.
Thanks

Hello sonitaespino,

No, you were right! Thanks very much for pointing this out. I've now corrected it, thanks to you!

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Good day sir may you help me know if you have a column that covers English Registers

Hello Lamastry,

You can find references to register, formality and polite forms all throughout LearnEnglish, but as far as I know, there is no page dedicated to the topic. I'd suggest you do an internet search for something like 'awareness of register in English' – I expect you can find some useful explanations that way.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hello British council.
i am your new students. please tell me how can i build up my vocabulary?

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