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I ran across a ques­tion in a gram­mar test that was ask­ing for a par­tic­u­lar sen­tence, and sup­pos­edly the re­quired an­swer is the first sen­tence given be­low, but not the sec­ond one, which they’re call­ing wrong:

  1. If I read this book, I will be able to get a lot of knowl­edge.

  2. If I read this book, I can get a lot of knowl­edge.

Aren’t both of those right? Don’t they mean the same thing? What’s “wrong” with the sec­ond ver­sion? What is the dif­fer­ence be­tween can and will be able to in those two par­tic­u­lar sen­tences? Are both right?

Note that I do not want to learn the dif­fer­ence be­tween can and be able to in a gen­eral way, be­cause I’m pretty sure I al­ready know that. My prob­lem is that I find the al­leged ex­pla­na­tion for why only sen­tence one not sen­tence two is the cor­rect an­swer to be ut­terly un­sat­is­fy­ing:

Can I def­i­nitely get a lot of knowl­edge? No. The con­di­tion that leads to get­ting a lot of knowl­edge is read­ing this book, but I might not read this book.

I don’t un­der­stand.

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    If you read this on a test, my suggestion is find another teacher that has a better understanding of English usage. i.e."...get a lot of knowledge"?? Jul 14, 2019 at 19:31
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    That explanation only really applies to the use of the comma. If something is certain, regardless of the condition that follows, then no comma should be used. At least in one interpretation. I will eat my breakfast, if it pleases you versus I will eat my breakfast if it pleases you. The version with the comma says that you liking it is incidental; the version without the comma says that you liking it is necessary. But not all people follow that. There is no difference between the two sentences, and the explanation, if it's valid in any sense, doesn't apply to only one version. Jul 14, 2019 at 22:17

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"Can" is possible in this case. But it will mean "will possibly get some knowledge" instead of "being able to get some knowledge"

Compare these:

If I study hard, I can make lots of money=If I study hard, I will possibly make lots of money.

If I study hard, I will be able to speak four languages=If I study hard, I will gain the ability to speak four languages.

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    Why can't it mean "being able to get some knowledge" with "can"? Feb 7, 2023 at 3:36
  • "will be able to" usually means that a general ability is gained after something is done. If I practice more, I can play piano (??? Doesn't make sense. It sounds if "you will play piano" instead of "gain the ability to play the piano) If I practice more, I will be able to play the piano (the ability to play the piano is gained after you practice more. The ability doesn't apply to only one occasion but will preserve after the condition is fulfilled) Feb 7, 2023 at 3:53
  • Also, for type 2 conditionals, among the effects of the modal "can" (suggestions, permission, ability, and possibility) only the meaning of possibility remains. While for type 1, the modal "can" still has effects other than the possibility. For example, "If you ask politely, you can go to the toilet (permission)" or "If you want to, we can take a bus (suggestion) Feb 7, 2023 at 3:55
  • However, if it's talking about a general ability that is gained after the fulfillment of the condition, neither type 1 or 2 accepts "can" in the main clause. Feb 7, 2023 at 4:01
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    You still haven't answered my question. You make claims in your first and third comments without citing any authority, such as a grammar book. The claim in the first comment seems to be easily disproven by a sentence such as "if you try hard enough, then you can do whatever you want", which I believe means the same as "if you try hard enough, then you will be able to do whatever you want". Feb 7, 2023 at 4:50

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