Модальные глаголы can, could и (be) able to

Урок 26

Мы используем can, чтобы сказать, что что-то возможно или разрешено, или что у кого-то есть физическая способность что-то сделать. Мы используем can + инфинитив (can do / can see и др.):

  • We can see the lake from our bedroom window.
  • ‘I haven’t got a pen.’ ‘You can use mine.’
  • Can you speak any foreign languages?
  • I can come and see you tomorrow if you like.
  • The word ‘play’ can be a noun or a verb.

Отрицательная форма - can’t (= cannot):

  • I’m afraid I can’t come to the party on Friday.
(Be) able to

Вы можете сказать, что кто-то is able to (способен) сделать что-то, но can более естественный вариант:

  • We are able to see the lake from our bedroom window.

Но у can есть только две формы: can (настоящее время) и could (прошедшее время). Поэтому иногда необходимо использовать (be) able to. Сравните:

◇ I can’t sleep.
◇ I haven’t been able to sleep recently.
◇ Tom can come tomorrow.
◇ Tom might be able to come tomorrow.
◇ Maria can speak French, Spanish and English.
◇ Applicants for the job must be able to speak two foreign languages.


Иногда could используется как прошедшее время модального глагола can. Часто мы используем could с:

see hear smell taste feel remember understand

  • We had a lovely room in the hotel. We could see the lake.
  • As soon as I walked into the room, I could smell gas.
  • I was sitting at the back of the theatre and couldn’t hear very well.

Мы также используем could, чтобы сказать, что кто-либо обладал общей способностью или разрешением что-либо сделать:

  • My grandfather could speak five languages.
  • We were totally free. We could do what we wanted. (= we were allowed to do = нам было разрешено)
Could и was able to

Мы используем could, говоря об общей способности. Но если вы хотите сказать, что кто-то сделал что-то в какой-то конкретной ситуации, используйте was/were able to или managed to (not could):

  • The fire spread through the building very quickly, but fortunately everybody was able to escape / managed to escape. (not could escape)
  • We didn’t know where David was, but we managed to find / were able to find him in the end. (not could find)


Mike was an excellent tennis player when he was younger. He could beat anybody. (= в общем, у него была способность/возможность победить кого угодно)


Mike and Pete played tennis yesterday. Pete played very well, but Mike managed to beat him. (= он смог победить его конкретно в этой игре)

Отрицательная форма couldn’t (could not) возможна во всех ситуациях:

  • My grandfather couldn’t swim.
  • We looked for David everywhere, but we couldn’t find him.
  • Pete played well, but he couldn’t beat Mike.


1. Закончите предложения, используя can или (be) able to. Используйте can, если возможно; в противном случае, используйте (be) able to.

  1. Gary has travelled a lot. He speak five languages.
  2. I haven’t sleep very well recently.
  3. Nicole drive, but she hasn’t got a car.
  4. I used to stand on my head, but I can’t do it now.
  5. I can’t understand Martin. I’ve never understand him.
  6. I can’t see you on Friday, but I meet you on Saturday morning.
  7. Ask Catherine about your problem. She might help you.


2. Напишите предложения о себе, используя идеи в скобках.

  1. (something you used to be able to do)
  2. (something you used to be able to do)
  3. (something you would like to be able to do)
  4. (something you have never been able to do)


3. Закончите предложения с can/can’t/could/couldn’t + следующее:

come eat hear run sleep wait

  1. I’m afraid I to your party next week.
  2. When Tim was 16, he 100 metres in 11 seconds.
  3. ‘Are you in a hurry?’ ‘No, I’ve got plenty of time. I .’
  4. I was feeling sick yesterday. I anything.
  5. Can you speak a little louder? I you very well.
  6. ‘You look tired.’ ‘Yes, I last night.’


4. Завершите ответы на вопросы с was/were able to ... .

  1. A: Did everybody escape from the fire?
    B: Yes, although the fire spread quickly, everybody ...
  2. A: Did you finish your work this afternoon?
    B: Yes, there was nobody to disturb me, so I ...
  3. A: Did you have difficulty finding our house?
    B: Not really. Your directions were good and we ...
  4. A: Did the thief get away?
    B: Yes. No-one realised what was happening and the thief ...


5. Закончите предложения, выбрав could, couldn’t или managed to.

  1. My grandfather travelled a lot. He speak five languages.
  2. I looked everywhere for the book, but I find it.
  3. They didn’t want to come with us at first, but we persuade them.
  4. Laura had hurt her leg and walk very well.
  5. Sue wasn’t at home when I phoned, but I contact her at her office.
  6. I looked very carefully and I see somebody in the distance.
  7. I wanted to buy some tomatoes. The first shop I went to didn’t have any, but I get some in the next shop.
  8. My grandmother loved music. She play the piano very well.
  9. A girl fell into the river, but fortunately we rescue her.
  10. I had forgotten to bring my camera, so I take any photographs.