• You can use my car while I'm on holiday.

  • You will be able to use my car while I'm on holiday

is this sentence correct? Can we use "be able to" here?


  • Both sentences could work, but since can often means may (permission), they don't convey the same thing. If you told me the second sentence, I'd say "Yes, sure I will be able to, but may I use your darn car or not?" You might say it's the problem with synonyms: A is like B is like C; but C does not replace A. Nov 9, 2021 at 14:39
  • 1
    Both may be used to grant permission (the deontic usage) as well as inform the person of the availability (the epistemic usage) of the said car. Used to give permission, the first is more conversational in tone, the second either more clinical / detached, or intended to hint at magnanimity. Nov 9, 2021 at 14:50
  • Yes, these two sentences mean the same thing: my gradeschool teacher would have distinguished "You can use my car" (=you have the ability) from "You may use my car" (=you have permission).
    – GEdgar
    Nov 9, 2021 at 14:57
  • "You will be able to use my car while I'm on holiday" implies there is a reason attached e.g. "because I'm not taking it with me". As others have said, in informal/spoken contexts, "you can" is far more common for permission.
    – Stuart F
    Nov 9, 2021 at 15:04

1 Answer 1


You can use my car while I'm on holiday. Can indicates ability or skill or power to do something in the pedantic usage of the word. However, it is more likely that can is used to mean may here, and statement would be the same as: You may use my car while I'm on holiday. This would indicate that "you have (my) permission to use my car while I'm on holiday."

You will be able to use my car while I'm on holiday This sentence gives certainty that you using my car while I am on holiday is possible. Both of these sentences could be used, but the first sentence lays emphasis on the possibility on you using the car, while the second indicates the condition ( when - while I'm on holiday) when that is possible.

Some more information of using can and "be able to" under different contexts may be found on this link.

  • "Baby you can drive my car / Because you possess the requisite experience and a valid license..." Nov 9, 2021 at 16:49

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