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Lesson 15 How to say “I can”, “I’m able to” in Chinese

Posted by Grace Feng on February 21, 2012

Lesson 15 How to say “I can”, “I'm able to” in Chinese?Before you go too far into a general conversation in Chinese on a plan, a project, a whatever topic that’ll demand actions, you’ll realize that you need to express “I can …”, ” I’m able to …” in Chinese frequently.

The equivalent words in English are only a few: can, could, be able to etc…. In Chinese, they are not many either.

OK, let’s go through some new words first. There are only three of them. Please use the estroke tool below to practice your writing:

kěyǐ jiè bǐjì
[hanzi]可以[/hanzi] (could, be able to)  [hanzi][/hanzi] (borrow) [hanzi]笔记[/hanzi] (notes)
[mp3j track=”L15-ke-yi.mp3″] [mp3j track=”L15-jie.mp3″] [mp3j track=”L15-bi-ji.mp3″]

 

  • You can copy and paste a few characters together into the box. They’ll show in the animation window one by one.
  • Once the stroke animation stops, click in the animation window and hit ENTER to replay it.
  • You can use the sliding bar to control writing speed of the animation.

 

Let’s get started…

I can do this.

wǒ néng zuò zhège.

做这个.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

Or,

wǒ huì zuò zhège.

做这个.

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I’m able to do this.

wǒ kěyǐ zuò zhège.

我可以做这个.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

Focus on following three keywords:

néng,   huì,   kěyǐ

,        会,      可以

Basically, you just put one of the above keywords right before the verb. If those keywords are used in question or answer pattern, do it this way:

If you wanna say:

[Can you do this?

Yes, I can.

No, I can’t.]

 

You can use either one of the following patterns:

<Pattern 1>

nǐ néngbùnéng zuò zhège?

你能不能做这个?

wǒ néng.       néng.

我能.    Or simply .

wǒ bùnéng.     bùnéng.

我不能. Or simply 不能.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

<Pattern 2>

nǐ huìhuì zuò zhège?

你会不会做这个?

wǒ huì.       huì.

.    Or simply .

wǒ bùhuì.     bùhuì.

我不Or simply 不.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

<Pattern 3>

nǐ kě bùkěyǐ zuò zhège?

你可不可以做这个?

wǒ kěyǐ.              kěyǐ.

我可以.      Or simply 可以.

wǒ bùkěyǐ.             bùkěyǐ.

我不可以.     Or simply 不可以.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

You might have noticed that when you answer such type of questions, you really don’t need to say “Yes” first as you do in English. Just jump directly to “I can.” or “I can not.” Or simply “Can.” or “Can’t.”.

Aside from , 会 and 可以, you can also use “行 (xíng). But remember, this word can NOT be followed by any other words. Using it as the meaning of “can”, you can only use it simply as below:

 

nǐ xíng bùxíng?

你行不行?

xíng.

.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

Hope I’ve explained it clear to you on how to say “I can …” and “I’m able to …” sentence pattern in Chinese. Now let’s have a look at the following examples to reinforce what you’ve learned from this lesson:

Can you go to the company today?

nǐ jīntiān néngbùnéng qù gōngsī?

你今天能不能去公司?

néng.

.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

Another way of asking the same question is:

nǐ jīntiān néng qù gōngsī ma?

今天去公司?

néng.

.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

When you answer such type of questions, you really don’t have to use the exact keywords that has been used in the question. You can use anyone of the following in your answer:

néng.

.

 

huì 

会.

 

kěyǐ.

可以.

 

xíng.

.

 

Now you need to give yourself a chance to practice as well. Try to translate the following sentences into Chinese first by yourself, then look at the answer below:

1. Can I have lunch at school?

Yes, you can.

 

Answer:

wǒ jīntiān néng zài xuéxiào chīfàn ma?

我今天能在学校吃饭吗?

néng.

.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

2. May I borrow your notes to read?

Yes, no problem.

 

Answer:

nǐ néng jiè wǒ kàn yīxià nǐ de bǐjì ma?

你能借我看一下你的笔记吗?

xíng, méiwèntí.

行, 没问题.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

3. Could my sister stay here tonight?

Yes, go ahead!

 

Answer:

wǒ mèimei jīnwǎn néng zhù zhèr ma?

我妹妹今晚能住这儿吗?

kěyǐ, zhù ba!

可以, 住吧!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

4. Can you write Chinese?

Yes, I do.

 

Answer:

nǐ huì xiě Zhōngwén ma?

你会写中文吗?

huì.

会.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

Have you enjoyed your lesson … :-) Learning Chinese definitely requires hard work. However, as long as you work in a balanced pace, mix your study with fun together, you’ll be amazed at your progress one day soon…

Feel free to leave your comment before you go … see you next time, my good friend!

 

Related posts:

Lesson 14 How to count things in Chinese
Lesson 26 How to use the word “非常“ in Chinese
Reading, Listening and Speaking practice 13

 

Category: JLC Chinese grammar lessons

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7 Responses to “Lesson 15 How to say “I can”, “I’m able to” in Chinese”

  1. nothing

    Trang:

    02-24-2012 1:31 am

    This is such a great site… such a pity that not many people seem to know about it…
    Keep your good work up!
    Thanks a lot.

    Reply

  2. nothing

    evelyne:

    05-05-2012 5:26 pm

    So interesting and useful! you give precious tips and your site is really full of ideas and so many various items with links etc..
    I’m from France and have been to China 4 times to study. My main concern is listening comprehension.
    I would like to know how many lessons are on your site and if you have audio dialogues on everyday topics. I usually go to Chinesepod that I like too. But a little change by going on your site is fun and complementary. You make a great workand I am happy having found you!
    Wo feichang xie ni! Ai fei lin (evelyne)

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace:

      05-05-2012 7:36 pm

      Hi Ai Fei Lin,

      First of all, welcome to my blog!

      Thanks for your kind words about my site. Nothing is more rewarding than knowing what I’ve offered here is helpful to my dear readers and friends.

      So far, there are 19 lessons on the blog. The number of lessons is growing moving along.

      There are three main categories of posts on site now, you can see the complete list under menu “lessons”, “practice” and “vocabulary”.

      “practice” has all kinds of interesting dialogue or narrative materals with audio. You can watch Chinese TV episodes and movies there as well.

      “vocabulary” so far has posts mainly in Chinese idioms and Chinese radicals. It will expand in wider scope soon.

      Please let me know what kind of materials you’re expecting and what level you are in? It’ll help me to decide on what topic to cover in my future posts.

      Thank you!

      Grace

      Reply

  3. nothing

    Laura:

    03-23-2013 10:28 pm

    hi, this site is 很有用!!! 我有一個問題: Why you did not included 會 in this lesson?

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      03-24-2013 1:45 am

      Very good question, Laura!! Why I didn’t include 会 in this lesson? I should!! :-)

      That’s a very good reminder, I must have missed it. Let me update the lesson with it.

      Much appreciated!

      Grace

      Reply

  4. nothing

    Gie:

    05-30-2015 4:00 am

    This site is very helpful. It has a simple way of teaching Mandarin. I am learning much from this. Thank you!

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      06-01-2015 3:19 am

      Glad to help, Gie. Thanks for your kind note. :-)

      Grace

      Reply

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