Answer to the exercise on the differences between “能(néng)” and “会(huì)”

Correct Answer: B

会(huì)” is used to indicate that someone is able to do something which is a learnable skill and not something he or she was born knowing how to do. For example, “会唱歌 (huì chàng’gē) can sing,” and “会弹钢琴 (huìtán gāngqín) know how to play the piano.” Being an auxiliary verb, “会 (huì)” should be followed by a verbal phrase.


Wǒ bú huì yòng kuàizi.
我    不会  用     筷子。
I can’t use chopsticks.

Nàgè láobǎn hěn huì  mài dōngxi.
那个   老板     很     卖    东西。
That boss can sell goods well.

On the other hand, “能(néng), ” as an auxiliary verb, is used to indicate an innate ability that does not need to be learned. “能(néng)” should also be followed by a verbal phrase such as “能看(néngkàn) able to see,” or “能听(néngtīng) can hear.”


Rén bùnéng fēi.
人      不能   飞。
Humans cannot fly.

Tā hěn néng  chī.
他   很 能  吃。
He can eat a lot.

What’s more, we also use “能(néng)” to express that someone is “allowed to” or “available, and therefore, capable of” doing something.


Tā míngtiān yǒushì, suǒyǐ bùnéng lái.
他    明天       有事,所以    不能  来。
He cannot come tomorrow because he has something to do.

Duìbuqǐ, wǒ bù néng  gàosu nǐ.
对不起,我     不  能  告诉 你。
Sorry, I can’t tell you.

In the above test, Peter asks if Allen have the skill of playing football. So we use “会(huì)” in the first two blanks. And then Allen asks if it is possible that he join Peter, thus we use “能(néng)”. Therefore, the correct answer is B.

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