Were you able to bargain for IELTS?

Posted by on April 11th, 2016 | 0 comments | grammar, IELTS, modals, Part 3, speaking, Task 2, writing

Budi tried to teach himself IELTS but made no progress. Then he discovered GuruEAP and last Saturday he could achieve band 7.0.

Ok,ok.. I made this one up. It may look like shameless self-promotion, but it’s a problem I often see in student writing.

Consider this scenario..

When Michelle first arrived in Indonesia she could speak only English and French. Now, after 20 years in Indonesia, she can speak Indonesian fluently. Last weekend she bought some avocados from the local market and she was able to negotiate a reasonable price.

Here there are two kinds of ability:

  1. A permanent ability that existed/exists continuously over time (“..he could speak../..he can speak..“). Note that this can be past or present.
  2. A temporary ability in the past that existed momentarily, relating to a particular event (“..he was able to negotiate..“). Note that this is always past.

So if we return to the original problem:

  • Budi tried to teach himself IELTS but made no progress. Then he discovered @GuruEAP and last Saturday he was able to achieve band 7.0.

Note that the temporary ability was required in a situation that was difficult and required effort / struggle.

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