4
  1. I can use computers.

  2. I know how to use a computer.

Why?

And what about the followings. Which of these is the natural sentence to say?

  1. He can teach how to use a computer.

  2. He can teach how to use computers.

  • All are correct. But if you say use computers you might confuse the listeners. They might think that you use many computer at the same time. – user178049 Nov 29 '16 at 6:24
  • 1
    You've mutated your question such that JavaLatte's answer is extremely confusing (he refers to sentences 5 and 6 which no longer exist). – Kirk Woll Nov 29 '16 at 16:28
10

If you say

I can use the computer

It means that you can use one particular computer- one that has been referred to previously in the conversation.

I can use a computer

If you change the to a, you are no longer referring to a particular computer: people will understand that you can use any computer.

I can use computers

This could be understood in two ways:

  • that you can use any computer
  • that you can use more than one computer at once.

Most people would assume that you intended the first meaning, unless the context indicated otherwise.

Both sentences 1 and 2 are grammatically correct and natural, but most English speakers would probably use sentence 1.

The same applies for sentences 3 to 6: all are grammatically correct, but there is probably a stronger bias toward the a version: Sentences 3 and 5 are very much more likely to be used by an English speaker than 4 and 6.

2

I can use computers.

The modal auxiliary can refers to your ability in this sentence. This sentence implies that you are able to use more than one computer (many computers). It also says that you can use use more than one computer at the same time.

I know how to use a computer.

It implies that you know how to use a computer generally. It doesn't mean that you only know how to use one computer. A computer doesn't mean one computer, but a computer represents any computers generally.

He can teach how to use a computer.

He can teach how to use computers.

These sentences are also related to A computer and computers . I'd say the first sentence is natural and idiomatic to use.

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