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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > could or was able to     

could or was able to



Miri75
Argentina

could or was able to
 
Hi nice people,
 
Could you tell me which sentence is correct?
 
 
A ) HE HAD HURT HIS LEG, SO HE WASN īT ABLE TO WALK VERY WELL
 
 
B) HE HAD HURT HIS LEG, SO HE COULDN īT WALK VERY WELL
 
 
 
  I saw both of them are correct in "English Grammar in use"(CUP).Do you agree ?
Could you explain the difference?
 
Thanks in advance

15 Aug 2009      





Kate (kkcat)
Russian Federation

Hello,
Well, I think in this case A is correct because I have read about this one aspect: be able to - means physical ability or the ability to do something at the particular time or in a particular situation.


15 Aug 2009     



karitadeangel
Argentina

BOTH sentences are OK! In the negative you have no problem. You can use wasn īt able to and couldn īt in the same way. there īs no difference. The problem is when you use them in the affirmative.

COULD refers to an ability in the past: When I was six I could touch my feet with my hands (I can īt do it any more).
You can only use COULD in the past for ONE OCCASION when you use it with VERBS OF PERCEPTION (see, smell, hear, etc.): when I got to the house and I could smell something burning.

In those cases when you can īt use COULD (that is to say, when you are talking about a particular situation in the past and you are not referring to the senses) you use BE ABLE TO:
After studying so hard, I was finally able to pass the make up exam. (NOT I could pass the make up exam)

HOPE IT HELPS!!!! Anyway I īm sure you īll find this in a grammar book in the part of modals that refer to ability.

=)

Karina

15 Aug 2009     



reeta1
Canada

They īre both right. Couldn īt means being not physically being able to do something.

15 Aug 2009     



zailda
Brazil

They can be used interchangeably:

I couldn īt swim when I was 10.
I wasn īt able to swim when I was 10.

When referring to a particular time / situation we use be able to instead of can / could:

He had hurt his leg, so he wasn īt able to walk very well.

When the teacher asked me about it yesterday, I wasn īt able to answer.


16 Aug 2009