Do you know how to say “can” in Chinese?
“Can” in Chinese is a tricky one. Is is 能 néng, 会 huì or 可以 kěyǐ? It’s all of them… At different times.🤯
The trick is to learn the key points you use each different word for and then practise until you have the habit of using them correctly. It’s not super easy, but you can do it!
If you want a little assistance when you first start using them in context, feel free to book a free trial class with our supportive Chinese teachers!
#1 – 能 (néng)
👉 能 (néng) describes what you are objectively able (or not able) to do, what you are capable of. So it means that you have the ability to do something.
(Tā néng pǎo shí gōnglǐ)
He can run ten kilometers
(Nǐ jīntiān néng lái ma?)
Can you come today?
#2 – 会 (huì)
👉会 (huì) describes what you can do once you’ve learned how to do it or you’ve been trained. So it means that you know how to do something.
(Wǒ huì chànggē)
I can sing
(Wǒ huì shuō Hànyǔ)
I can speak Chinese
#3 – 可以 (kěyǐ)
👉可以 (kěyǐ) describes what others let (or not let) you do or if you have permission to do it.⠀
🔹 老师 ，我可以早点儿走吗？
(Lǎoshī, wǒ kěyǐ zǎodiǎnr zǒu ma?)
Teacher, can I leave early?
(Wǒ kěyǐ zài zhèlǐ tíngchē ma?)
Can I park here?
Conclusion – You “Can” in Chinese! 你可以的！
Don’t worry if you’re a little overwhelmed. Chinese has a population for being one of the most difficult languages for a reason. Fortunately, there are lots of great online learning resources.
Take a break from Chinese vocabulary and grammar by popping over to our Chinese culture quiz to test yourself!
Also don’t forget you can leave us comments on social media or below with your attempts at using the structures above in Chinese. We’ll let you know if there are any corrections needed!