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Lesson 18:  Grammar - "Can": How to Express Capability


Click in the arrow to listen how to pronounce the word in Mandarin


Lesson 18 “Can” – How to express capability in Chinese


Through previous introduction section of grammar, we learn the basic structure of a Chinese sentence and how to express simple tenses.


In this section, we will show you some of the most frequently used structure to express yourself.  To start with, let us discuss the word ‘can’ in the sense of capability.


1. hui4 


Verb.  is Chinese equivalent to ‘can’ to express one’s capability to do something.  As a noun, also means “meeting” or “conference”.  This is not related to its meaning as a verb.  Please be sure not to be confused.  In a sentence, is often put ahead of “verb + noun” structure, just like “can” in English.


See the following example:


2. 他   会     开    车  

    ta1   hui4     kai1   che1

    He    can     drive   a car.  (=he can drive)


3. 我们        会     说       英文  

  wo3men2       hui4    shuo1    yin1wen2

     We             can     speak    English.


4. 不会  


  “can not”. 


As you may know from previous classes, “” means “not”.   Note in Chinese, “no” or “not” is most of time put before rather than after the verb to express negative sense such as in this case.


More examples for ‘cannot’:


5. 我的     父母     不会      用      电脑  

    wuo3de   fu4mu3      bu2hui4     yong4   dian4nao3

     My       parents        cannot        use     computer.


6. 她    不会     打     网球  

    ta1    bu2hui4     da2     wang3qiu2

    She   cannot      play     tennis.