“be able to” in the past and future

What does "be able to" imply when used in the future and past? When used in the future does it say that I will just have the ability to do it, and maybe I’ll do it but maybe not? And when used in the past, does it say that I both had the bility and actually did it?

The future:

He will be able to lift the car.

I will be able to find Larry tomorrow.

I will be able to come to the party.

The past: (was it done?)

He was able to lift the car (off the child’s leg).

I was able to find Larry yesterday.

I was able to come to the party.


In the past tense, “He was able to…” strongly implies that he did whatever action you describe. The main exception to this is that if the speaker explicitly indicates that the action was not completed, that is understandable to mean simply that he had the ability. For example, “He was able to call home, but chose not to do so,” means that he had the ability to call home, but he did not.

In the future tense, to be able to do something means that someone will have the ability to do something, but not necessarily that he will do it. We can’t predict the future 🙂

Source : Link , Question Author : Graduate , Answer Author : Daniel

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