Expressing Ability And Inability In Korean ((으)ㄹ 수 있다/없다)

In Korean, the grammar structure (으)ㄹ 수 있다/없다 is used to express the ability or inability to do something.

The phrase translates literally as ‘is it possible?’ or ‘is possibility existing?’

Basic Examples

Expressing ability

너는 운전 할 수 있어요?
Can you drive?
네, 운전 할 수 있어요.
Yes, I can drive.

Expressing inability

아니, 운전 할 수 없어요.
No, I can't drive.
한국말을 이해할 수 없어요.
I can't understand Korean.

Intensifying with 가: (으)ㄹ 수가 있다/없다

You can intensify the expression by adding to it, thereby adding emphasis.


수영 할 수가 없어요.
I really can't swim.
한국말을 이해할 수가 없어요. 왜냐하면 한국 사람들이 아주 빠르게 말하거든요.
I really can't understand Korean, because Korean people speak very quickly.


The structure (으)ㄹ 수 있다/없다 is a simple but effective way to express your capabilities or limitations in Korean.

By adding , you can further emphasize the strength of your statement.

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