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The difference between 会 (huì) and能 (nénɡ)

‘Can’ has two Chinese equivalents: 会 (huì) and能 (nénɡ). The former, 会 means ‘to know how to’, and the latter能 means ‘be able to’. It all seems quite simple, but many Chinese learners may still confuse how to use them in practical situations.

  • stress the skills acquired through learning.


我会开车。(Wǒ huì kāi chē.)

她会游泳,我不会。(Tā huì yóuyǒng, wǒ bú huì.)

  • can be predicate alone.


我会英语。(Wǒ huì yīnɡyǔ.)

  • stress the possession of the skills


我能看见。(Wǒ nénɡ kànjiàn.)

  • indicate permission or prohibition


我能去公园吗?(Wǒ nénɡ qù ɡōnɡyuán mɑ?)

不能去公园。(Bù nénɡ qù ɡōnɡyuán.)

  • can not be predicate alone


我能英语。× (Wǒ nénɡ yīnɡyǔ.)


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