[Easy Korean] Unit 14 ~을 수 있어요/없어요 : can (do) / can not (do)

1. ~을(ㄹ) 수 있어요/없어요 : can (do) / can not (do)

~을(ㄹ) 수 있어요/없어요 is used to express ability/possibility or inability/impossibility.

~을(ㄹ) 수 있어요 indicates ability, capability, possibility or permission. ~을(ㄹ) 수 없어요 is the negative form.

~을(ㄹ) 수 있어요/없어요 is used with verbs. If the verb stem ends in a consonant, ‘~을 수 있어요/없어요’ is added, and if the verb stem ends in a vowel, ‘~ㄹ 수 있어요/없어요’ is added.

mannam.korean.can1

E.g. ① 한국어를 할 수 있어요. I can speak Korean.
② 오늘 갈 수 있어요. I can go today.
③ 오늘 같이 공부할 수 없어요. I can’t study together today.

2. ~을(ㄹ) 줄 알아요/몰라요 : to know/ not to know how to do something

~을(ㄹ) 줄 알아요 express that the subject knows and ~을(ㄹ) 줄 몰라요 that the subject does not know how to do a certain action.

~을(ㄹ) 줄 알아요/몰라요 is used with verbs. If the verb stem ends in consonant, ~을 줄 알아요/몰라요 is added, If the verb stem ends in a vowel, ~ㄹ 줄 알아요/몰라요 is added.

mannam.korean.can2

*** Note!!  What’s the difference?

When ‘~을(ㄹ) 수 있어요/없어요’ is used to express the ability to do something, ‘~을(ㄹ) 수 있어요/없어요’ has almost the same meaning as ‘~을(ㄹ) 줄 알아요/몰라요’, and therefore they can be interchanged.

E.g. 앤디 씨는 한국어를 할 수 있어요. = 앤디 씨는 한국어를 할 줄 알아요.
Andy can speak Korean.        Andy knows how to speak Korean.

However, while ‘~을(ㄹ) 수 있어요/없어요’ can also be used to express the possibility of doing something, ‘ ~을(ㄹ) 줄 알아요/몰라요’ cannot be.

~을(ㄹ) 줄 알아요/몰라요 expresses whether one knows how or has the ability to do something.
나는 딸기잼을 만들 줄 몰라요.
I don’t know how to make strawberry jam.

~수(ㄹ) 있어요/없어요 used not only to express the ability to do something but also whether a situation permits somethings to be done.
나는 딸기잼을 만들 수 없어요.
ⓐ I don’t know how to make strawberry jam.
ⓑ I know how to make strawberry jam, but for some reason(such as a lack of strawberries,) I can’t make it right now.

E.g.  저는 한국어를 할 수 있어요(O) I can speak Korean.
저는 한국어를 할 줄 알아요(O) I know how to speak Korean.

내일 영화를 볼 수 있어요.(O) I can/It’s possible to see a movie tomorrow.
내일 영화를 볼 줄 알아요(X)

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