For example:

  1. His method may not solve the problem


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

Do both sentences have the same meaning?


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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