A user with this permission should be able to run, upload, and download applications.

In the example above, does it mean "a user (...) can run, upload, (...)"?


"a user (...) will be able to run (....)"?


"I should be able to" doesn't mean the same as "I can".

In this kind of context, "should" is used to indicate what is probable, whereas "can" means you are able to.

When someone says "I should be able to" it might imply either a small amount of doubt over the possibility or perhaps more accurately it demonstrates some caution, allowing for mitigating circumstances that might prevent it from being accomplished. It can also imply that you are aware of something preventing you.

Sometimes the use of "should be able" is accompanied with a conditional clause, for example:

I should be able to go out, so long as it doesn't rain.

Idiomatically though, it is commonly used alone.

Having said that, "can" does not strictly mean that you will do something. You might say "I can play the piano", but it doesn't not mean that you ever will play it - it simply means that you have the ability.

In spoken English, tone of voice plays a large part in the understanding of these expressions. If someone said "I should be able to" with a positive tone and perhaps a nodding head I would interpret that to mean that the person had every intention of trying their best. If though they looked uncertain as they said it I would interpret that to mean they had some doubts or concerns over the possibility.

For your example, I would go with "can":

A user with this permission can run, upload, and download applications.

This doesn't mean that the user must perform those functions, but it clearly shows that they have the ability to without any restriction or condition.

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