Use of be able to (ability)

How to use be able to in English? 

  • You can use be able to in the present, past, future, present perfect, and as a gerund or infinitive.
  • Using be able to in the present and past is more formal instead of can or could. 

Present form: Verb to be + be able to 

e.g. She is able to decide by herself. (formal) / She can decide by herself. (informal)

e.g. I am (I’m notnot able to accept that.(formal) / I can’t (cannot) accept that. (informal)

Past form: was / were + be able to 

e.g. He was able to go out yesterday. (formal) / He could go out yesterday.

e.g. They weren’t (were not) able to come last night. (formal) / They couldn’t (could not) come last night. (informal)

Present perfect: have / has + been able to 

e.g. I have been able to speak Portuguese since I was a child.

e.g. She has not (hasn’t) been able to study another language.

Gerund: verb + being able to 

e.g. I like being able to ski.

e.g. I love not being able to sleep too much hours.

Infinitive: verb + to be able 

e.g. I would like (I’d) to be able to go out more.

e.g. I decide to be able to make a speech.