LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||09/NOV/2010 9:39 PM|
|Assunto:||be able to|
If Natalia told me, "I was able to go out last weekend", I would infer that she had gone out. Natalia is saying more than "the conditions existed for me to go out if I had wanted to." She is saying that the event took place.
If Natalia told me, "I could have gone out last weekend", I would infer that she had not gone out.
Let's change the sentences slightly, and I think the reader will understand the logic.
"I was able to see a ship last weekend." Did Natalia see a ship or not? It seems clear to me that she saw a ship.
"I could have seen a ship last weekend." Did Natalia see a ship or not? It seems clear to me that she did not see a ship This sentence has an unspoken/unwritten phrase, and it begins with "but...", "however...",etc. "I could have seen a ship last weekend, but I was too busy...however, my mother would not let me go...had my boyfriend been in town...if it had not been raining so hard, etc."
"I was able to help her yesterday." Did you help her? I would say yes, you did.
"I could have helped her yesterday." Did you help her? No, you did not.
I have tried but failed to find a source to illustrate this. I will keep looking, of course.
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