10.13

néng

Capable (of)

+ A LITTLE MORE +

能 is often confused with 会 and 可以 mostly because they have overlapping meanings and could be popularly translated to "can" in English. It takes time to get used to them but for a start, try to understand the basics without thinking in terms of "can" or "cannot":

Word Meaning
会 (huì) Know (possess ability and knowledge) / Will be
不*会 (bù huì) Do not know / Will not be
能 (néng) Able to – Capable of (possess the ability) and allowed to
不*能 (néng) Not able to – Capable of but not allowed to OR: Allowed to but not capable of
可以 (ké yǐ) Allowed to
不*可以 (bù ké yǐ) Not allowed to

Some basic sentences and what they usually imply:

Basic sentences Basic implications
我会喝酒 I know how to drink (Not only do I possess the ability to drink, I have a good knowledge of drinking)
我不会喝酒 I do not know how to drink (Usually a humble way of saying I'm not really good at drinking)
我今晚会喝酒 I will be drinking tonight
我今晚不会喝酒 I will not be drinking tonight
我能喝酒 I am able to drink (I am capable of drinking and could even drink a lot, but this does not imply that I have a good knowledge of drinking)
我不能喝酒 He is not able to drink (He might have a low alcohol tolerance or alcohol allergy)
我今晚能喝酒 He is able to drink tonight
我今晚不能喝酒 He is not able to drink tonight (He might be forbidden to drink or that he is on medication)
我可以喝酒 I am allowed to drink
我不可以喝酒 I am not allowed to drink
我今晚可以喝酒 I am allowed to drink tonight
我今晚不可以喝酒 I am not allowed to drink tonight

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