In the Chinese language, both “能(nénɡ)” and “会(huì)” mean “can.” However, they are not always interchangeable, as they each convey different instances of the word.
“会(huì)” is used to show that someone has mastered a skill or has the actual ability to do something. It is used in examples such as “会游泳(huì yóuyǒnɡ) to know how to swim,” “会开车(huì kāichē) to know how to drive,” “会说汉语(huì shuō hànyǔ) to know how to speak Chinese,” etc. The structure is:
Subject + 会(huì) + a skill.
Zhānɡ Lì : Jack, nǐ huì xiū diànnǎo ma?
张 丽：Jack，你 会 修 电脑 吗？
Zhang Li: Jack, can you fix the computer?
Jack: Yes, I can!
Wǒ huì zuò Zhōnɡɡuó cài!
我 会 做 中国 菜！
I can cook Chinese food!
However, if you use “néng” followed by a skill, it expresses the meaning that there are no circumstances or external conditions preventing you from doing it.
Wǒ sǎnɡzi ténɡ, bùnénɡ chī làjiāo.
我 嗓子 疼， 不能 吃 辣椒。
I have a sore throat, so I can’t eat chili peppers.
Linda: Zhào Liàng, nǐ míngtiān néng cānjiā wǔhuì ma?
Linda：赵 亮， 你 明天 能 参加 舞会 吗？
Linda: Zhao Liang, can you join the dance party tomorrow?
Zhào Liànɡ: Néng, wǒ míngtiān búyòng shànɡbān.
赵 亮： 能， 我 明天 不用 上班。
Zhao Liang: Of course I can. I don’t need to go to work tomorrow.