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Are 他能帮你 and 他会帮你 in Chinese the Same?

After learning the meanings and applications of the two characters 能and会, some of the beginners of Chinese language learning may feel confused about the differences between the sentences 他能帮你and他会帮你. As they know, the most basic meaning of the two characters is to show somebody is able to do something. However, when it comes to the two sentences mentioned above, both words are applied to the possibility of certain things.

Even though there are some differences between 能and会when they are used to indicate possibility, there are still some tiny differences that the students need to pay attention when they study and volunteer in China. First of all, 能indicates the possibility or condition of doing certain thing objectively while 会is to tell or evaluate certain possibility without emphasis on the objectivity. For example, 你去找老张吧,他认识的人多,能帮你这个忙. Since the objective condition of 帮忙is认识人多 and it is not sure other people are willing to help, 会can’t be used in this sentence.

Let’s make a comparison with the sentence你去找老张吧,他热心肠,会帮你这个忙, in which the person老张of 热心肠is willing to 帮忙. But there is no need to have the objective condition of 帮忙. So we can’t be changed into 能. Of course, it often happens that the overseas students mix the application of both words together and making mistakes like 如果你努力工作,以后就不能失业. 能in this sentence should be placed by 会because it tells there is a certain possibility.

In addition, foreign students who attend to volunteer programs in China should know the 会is also different with 能which indicates permission. When we say他现在不会出来, it indicts no possibility to come out. If we say他现在不能出来, it implies he is not allowed to come out under certain situations. For example, he is in examination and he is not allowed to go out. When 能is used in this sense, it usually appears in questions and negative sentences.

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