Is it possible to use them in the same sentence? For example,

I can swim, but today I am not able to, because I have hurt my leg.

Many natives find the sentence not idiomatic. What do you say?

1 Answer 1


It sounds fine to me - maybe the phrasing is a little formal (people might usually say I can swim, but I can't today... just because it's a natural way of speaking) but there's nothing wrong with it grammatically. You could say unable instead, but I am unable to sounds just as formal to my ear.

Also, it's fairly common for people to try and avoid repetition, especially in written language - so because can and able to mean the same thing here, you can use them interchangeably and you avoid saying can over and over.

  • I must take it as your first language is English, right?
    – user1425
    Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 5:25
  • 1
    Yeah - British English, if that matters! Like I said, it sounds formal to me, so it might feel unnatural to some people - but that doesn't make it incorrect. And English-speakers from different countries express themselves in different ways, so people have different ideas about what's normal, or what sounds casual or formal, you know? So it depends who you're asking! But the grammar is completely fine. Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 5:37

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