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For Life
2004.06.16

The difference between today's word pair is subtle, but important. Read carefully!

Today's LessonCATEGORY: Commonly Confused Words
COULD vs. WAS ABLE TO   〜することができた(COULD と WAS ABLE TO の使い分け)

Explanation

  • Could  and was able to  both mean to have the skills, knowledge, or opportunity to do something. However:

    Could  is used more often to talk about a person's ABILITY to do something.

    Was able to  is used more often to talk about the RESULT, which is that a person succeeded in doing something.
  • could  と was able to  は両方とも、必要な技術や知識があったから、または機会が与えられたから、何かをすることができた、という意味です。けれども以下のような使い分けがあります。

    could  は、その人の持っている能力について言うときによく使われます。

    was able to  は、何かをするのに成功したという結果について話すときによく使われます。

examples

  1. My grandfather could  speak five languages.
  2. It was so hot in the sauna that I couldn't  breathe.
  3. When I was in college, I could  run the 100 meters in about 12 seconds.
  4. Because of the strong wind that day, I was able to  run the 100 meters in only 10.5 seconds.
  5. Because I couldn't  swim very well, I was  never able to  enjoy our vacations at the lake.
  6. We worked all night and were able to  finish the project on schedule.  
  7. a: Were  you able to  reserve a room?
    b: No. The hotel's full.
  8. The jacket was on sale, so I was able to  buy it for 50% off.

We hope you  were able to understand today's point!