Talking about Ability in English
Hello English learners. Welcome to a new lesson. We will learn different ways of talking about ability in English.
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Using of modal verbs can, could and be able to to talk about ability
To talk about general ability, we normally use the modal verb can.
- I can cook really good pasta.
- Simon can ride a bicycle.
- They can speak Italian.
We can also use could to talk about ability in the past.
- Mary could write when she was five.
- I could stay up all night when I was younger.
- Lucy could run really fast when she was in high school.
We can use be able to to talk about ability in the future.
- We’re moving to Spain so we’ll be able to speak Spanish every day.
- I’m not sure I’ll be able to come to the party.
- When I get my salary, I’ll be able to take you to dinner.
Phrases to use for talking about ability
To know how
We can use the phrase “to know how” instead of can.
- I know how to sail the boat.
- Do you know how to fill in this form?
- Everyone knows how to fasten a seatbelt.
To be good at
If you are good at something, then you can do it very well.
- Our son is very good at maths.
- She is very good at motivating her students.
- Mark is good at geography but bad at history.
If you can manage something, you can deal with it successfully.
- How do you manage to be so slim?
- It’s amazing how you manage to stay cool in this heat.
- After a few attempts, Sara managed to turn the car on.
To find something easy or difficult to do
Meaning: something is easy or difficult for a particular person to do.
- At first, we found it difficult to do this job but two years later it’s much easier.
- Do you find it difficult to learn Chinese?
- Laura has always found it easy to express her affection in writing.
To be useless at something
If you are useless at something, then you are not able to do it very well.
- Stephen is pretty useless at DIY. He can’t even paint a wall.
- The manager sacked Jay because he found him useless at work.
- I’m totally useless at maths. Can you help me with my homework?
To not have a clue
Meaning: to not know how to do something or be very bad at doing it.
- Phoebe doesn’t have a clue how to turn the new machine on. Shall we check it out online?
- The new manager doesn’t have a clue how to do his job.
- I don’t have a clue how to drive.
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