We use ‘to be able to’ to express ability.

can = to be able to

I can speak English. Or I am able to speak English.

The basic structure of “to be able to”
subject + be able to + verb

I am not able to see the sea from this window.

The differences between can and to be able to

“Can” has only two forms: peresent (can) and past (could)

“be able to” is possible in all tenses:

Present simple: I am able to drive.
Past simple: I was able to drive when I was 13.
Future simple: I will be able to drive one day.
Perfect tenses: I have been able to drive since I was 12.

The differences between could and to be able to

If you mean that someone managed to do something in one particular situation, you have to use was/were able to

John was an excellent tennis player . He could beat anybody.(= He had the ability to beat anybody.)
But once he had a difficult game against George. George played very well but in the end John was able to beat him. (= He managed to beat him in this particular game.)

The negative couldn't is possible in all situations.

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