Sanya
What's the difference between could and was able to? She could swim when she was a child. She was able to swim the Changjiang River, May I exchange could and was able to in these two sentences? Thank you in advance!She could swim when she was a child. She was able to swim the Changjiang River, May I exchange could and was able to in these two sentences without changing their meanings? Thank you in advance! Translate »
Mar 25, 2011 2:00 PM
Answers · 2
"She could", to me, has the added connotation of "if she wanted to". This is because we use 'can' in the past tense to indicate possibility (in place of the old English subjunctive). So if you want to stress that she had the ability to do it, say 'was able'. Because to me, "she could swim" also connotes a near-conditional meaning; "if [something happened], she could swim...". But both are right in the sentences you gave, it just depends on what you want to place the stress.
March 25, 2011
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Sanya
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English
Learning Language
English