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Ability

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 racheed,

'must' can be used in different ways -- i.e., it has different meanings. When it is used (as in the sentence you ask about) to express obligation, which is prohibition in the negative, 'mustn't' is the negative form.

When 'must' is to express a conclusion or deduction, 'can't' is the negative form. For example, 'That can't be Santosh -- he's in Manchester, not here in York'. This means I see a man who seems to be Santosh, but since I know Santosh is in Manchester and I am now in York, he 'can't' be Santosh.

I hope that clears it up for you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, I´d like to know the exact meaning of the sentence: "Cyclists should have to pass a test to get a licence before they are allowed on the road". Cannot I just say „cyclists have to pass a test? What is a difference between have to pass and should have to pass and should pass? Thanks in advance.

Hello annamaria,

Both 'should' and 'have to' can be used to talk about obligation. In general, 'have to' is stronger than 'should'. There are several resources I would recommend you take a look at to get a better idea of how to use them. First, our sister site LearnEnglish Teens has a page on this very topic. Second, you can find explanations and examples of 'should' and 'have to' in the Cambridge Dictionary.

As for the specific sentences you ask about, using 'should' means that you're talking about your opinion -- you believe that an obligatory test (which doesn't exist yet) is a good idea. 'have to' implies that this test is already obligatory. 'should have to pass' means essentially the same as 'should'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi.
This sentence above is correct?
"Would you like to come round to morrow?"
Thanks in advance.

Hello Ricardo,

No, that was a spelling error, which I've now fixed. Thanks very much for telling us about this!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear The LearnEnglish Team,
Can I use « Yes, I'd love to. » and « Yes, I would » to reply to the question « would you like some orange juice? »
Al the best,
Hien

Hello Hien,

'Yes, I would' is fine.

We use 'I'd love to' when the question includes a verb:

Would you like to go to the cinema?

Yes, I'd love to.

When the question is about a noun without a verb we don't use 'to':

Would you like some orange juice?

Yes, I'd love some.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sorry, I mean "Dan would help you if you ask him"

Dear Sir
Please let me know whether this question is right or wrong.
May I know who is speaking there please?
I request your help because there are two questions in one.
Thank you.
Regards
Andrew international

Hello Andrew international,

It is grammatically correct, though depending on the context, I would probably omit the word 'there'. This sentence, without 'there', is commonly used on the telephone to ask who the person on the other end of the line is.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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