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For example:

  1. His method may not solve the problem

vs

  1. His method may not be able to solve the problem

Do both sentences have the same meaning?

-1

His method may not solve the problem.

He may not be able to solve the problem.

To avoid grammar problems, it is best to use /be able/ for people.

People are able to do this or that.

| improve this answer | |
  • Collins Cobuild English Usage amusingly includes: ... 'be able to' [is] used to talk about a person's ability to do something.... The animals are able to move around, and they can all lie down. ' But I agree, 'be able to' is not always the best choice to use with a non-volitional-agent. / I don't understand the downvote, but it may be for choosing 'grammar problems' rather than 'usage problems'. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 11 '17 at 15:34
  • @Edwin Ashworth yes, living beings, ok. Tsk tsk to me. – Lambie Mar 12 '17 at 16:53

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