"Can you teach me to play mahjong?"


January 21, 2018



Why does this sentence use 能?I would think it should be 可以.

1) I guess, with 能 the sentence means "Are you able to teach me mahjong?" which is essentially asking if that person knows how to play mahjong (and therefore, has the ability to teach it).

2) I guess with 可以 the sentence would mean "Is the situatuon such that you can teach me mahjong (do you have the time, the desire, etc)"

The thing is, with the given English translation of "Can you teach me mahjong?" I, as a native English speaker, would assume you're asking number 2 above unless the context indicates otherwise.


January 21, 2018


You are right that we can also understand the sentence as "Are you able to teach me mahjong?", although usually we don't ask in this way, and instead we ask "你能打麻將嗎?" to learn about whether a person is able to play Mahjong.

January 23, 2018


The actual reasoning is that 可以 expresses "ability", whereas 能 expresses "possibility".

The main sentence is alright as it is since the given English sentence does not express anything about "ability".

January 22, 2018


I feel the same way.

February 27, 2018


Any reason why "能不能" couldn't be used here instead of "能 ... 吗"? I'm not aware of any, but currently it's not accepted. Native speakers?

February 26, 2018


Is it always 打麻将, or is 玩麻将 acceptable too?

April 12, 2018


Personally, in about twenty years of sometimes occasional and sometimes intensive exposure to Chinese, I've never heard anyone say it with "玩", though you can find a lot of examples of it with an internet search, so it seems to be possible. But perhaps a native Chinese speaker can provide a definitive answer.

April 13, 2018


My experience has been the same: always heard "打麻将"

August 11, 2019


The 麻将 Word Bank tile is silent, they always stay silent for the entire lesson. Defective network code? So tiresome. Reported [The audio does not sound correct] 2019 June 20th Thursday Opera 60.0.3255.170 Mac OS X 10.11.6 64-bit.

June 20, 2019
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