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Level 2 Lesson 14.1 – Can You Teach Me Really Quick, Okay?

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Modal Verb 可以 vs. Modal Verb 能 | Yes or No Question with 可以吗

In today's video lesson we’ll learn how to use Modal Verb 可以. We'll compare the Modal Verb 可以 vs. 能 as well. And we'll also learn another form of yes or no question and how to say right and wrong in Chinese.

  • Modal Verb 可以
  • Modal Verb 可以 vs. 能
  • Yes or No Question with 可以吗?(III). See also Yes or No Question Chinese (I) and (II).
  • Right and wrong in Chinese: 对 错

VOCABULARY


EXPRESSIONS


 GRAMMAR


Grammar 1: Modal Verb 可以 · HSK 2

Just like the Modal Verb 能, Modal Verb 可以 can suggest two meanings:

(1) the possibility to do something

For example,

  • nín kě bu kěyǐ xiàng wǒ jièshào yíxià
    您可不可以向我介绍一下?
    Can you introduce to me really quick or not?
  • nǐ kěyǐ chūlai ma
    你可以出来吗?
    Can you come out?

(2) the rationality to do something, like whether it is permitted, allowed, accepted or reasonable to do something

  • shí liù suì zài Zhōngguó kěyǐ kāichē ma
    十六岁在中国可以开车吗?
    Can (a) 16-yar-old drive in China?
  • wǒ kěyǐ hējiǔ ma
    我可以喝酒吗?
    Can I drink alcohol?

To answer questions with 可以, for short answers, we can say 可以 for yes, and 不行 for no.

For example,

  • Q: qǐngwèn, wǒ kěyǐ jìnlai ma
          请问,我可以进来吗?
          Excuse me, can I come in?
    Y: kěyǐ
          可以。
          Yes.
    N: 
    bùxíng
          不行。
          No.

 

Grammar 2: Modal Verb 可以 vs. 能· HSK 2

I. Interchangeable

When asking questions, no matter it is asking “possibility” or “rationality”, 可以 and 能 are interchangeable.

For example the two sentences in each group have the same meaning.

(1) asking the possibility to do something

  • nín néng huídá yíxià ma
    您能回答一下吗?
    Can you answer really quick?
  • nín kěyǐ huídá yíxià ma
    您可以回答一下吗?
    Can you answer really quick?

(2) asking the rationality to do something, like whether it is permitted, allowed, accepted or reasonable to do something

  • wǒ míngtiān néng bú shàngkè ma
    我明天能不上课吗?
    Can I (be allowed to) not go to class tomorrow?
  • wǒ míngtiān kěyǐ bú shàngkè ma
    我明天可以不上课吗?
    Can I (be allowed to) not go to class tomorrow?

 

II. Differences

The differences between Modal Verb 可以 vs. 能 are there mainly when answering questions with a full sentences.

There are situations where we cannot use 可以 or 能. The differences are as follows (* marks usages that are incorrect):

Can Possibly

Cannot Possibly

Can be allowed to

Cannot be allowed to

不能 *能 不能
jīntiān méi xiàyǔ, wǒmen néng qù tī zúqiú
今天没下雨,我们能去踢足球。
Today (it) didn't rain, we can (possibly) go to play soccer.
wǒ míngtiān bù néng qù nǐ jiā chī fàn
我明天不能去你家吃饭。
I cannot (be allowed to) go to your home to eat tomorrow.
wǒ néng gàosu nǐ
*我能告诉你。
I can (be allowed to) tell you.
xiǎo háizi bùnéng hējiǔ
小孩子不能喝酒。
Little kids cannot (be allowed to) drink alcohol.
可以 *不可以 可以 不可以
jīntiān méi xiàyǔ, wǒmen kěyǐ qù tī zúqiú
今天没下雨,我们可以去踢足球。
Today (it) didn't rain, we can (possibly) go to play soccer.
wǒ míngtiān bù kěyǐ qù nǐ jiā chī fàn
*我明天不可以去你家吃饭。
I cannot (be allowed to) go to your home to eat tomorrow.
wǒ kěyǐ gàosu nǐ
我可以告诉你。
I can (be allowed to) tell you.
xiǎo háizi bù kèyǐ hējiǔ
小孩子不可以喝酒。
Little kids cannot (be allowed to) drink alcohol.

To sum up, just remember that 不可以 only means "cannot be allowed to" or "prohibited"; and 能 only means "can possibly".

 

Grammar 3: Yes or No Question with 可以吗?· HSK 2

We have learned ways to ask and answer Yes or No questions in Chinese before [See (I) and (II)]. In today's lesson we'll learn another way to ask a yes or no question with 可以吗?

Usually we make a request or suggestion, and then say “X吗?”. The X here can be an adjective or a Modal Verb.

Request/Suggestion + X 吗

For example,

  • nǐ jiāojiao wǒ, hǎo ma
    你教教我,好吗?
    You teach me really quick, okay?
  • wǒ xiǎng zǒulù qù gōnggòng qīchē zhàn
    我想走路去公共汽车站,可以吗?
    I want to walk to the bus stop, okay?
  • zhè bēi jiǔ shì nǐ de, duì ma
    这杯酒是你的,对吗?
    This cup of alcohol is yours, correct?

 

Grammar 4: Right and Wrong in Chinese · HSK 2

In Chinese 对 is correct, right, and 错 is incorrect or wrong.

The phrase 不对 is incorrect, however, the phrase 不错 is not bad, or not wrong. The phrase 没错 is not wrong, or correct.

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