English Lessons: How to Express Ability

English Lessons: How to Express Ability

Express Ability - Swim

How to Express Ability in English

Grammar Structures to Express Ability

Used to

  1. When I was  a kid, I used to play soccer every day
  2. I used to study a lot when I was in  university


  1. When I was in university,  I couldn’t drive
  2.  When I was young,  I could run very fast

Able to

  1.  I wasn’t able to speak English
  2. I am to be English


  1. Allan can swim well
  2. Jack can’t play the paino


  1. Next Year, I will  learn how to drive
  2. Next I will learn how to surf

Verbs Useful to Express Ability (Action Verbs)


  1. Cook
  2. Play
  3. Drive
  4. Jump
  5. Run
  6. Read
  7. Write
  8. Swim
  9. Ride
  10. Eat
  11. Clean


  1. Do
  2. Make
  3. Call
  4. build
  5. dance
  6. fix
  7. listen
  8. read
  9. go
  10. Watch
  11. Drink



  1. When I was in University, I couldn’t drive but I can drive now
  2. When I was a kid, I couln’t speak English but I can speak fluently now
  3. I could sleep eight hours a day when I was younger but I can’t do that now

What You Need to Teach this Lesson

  1. Chronogram
  2. Pieces of papers with verbs to play charades
  3. Pictures that have the target grammar and vocabulary (Crello and Canva can help)
  4. Sentences to play chinese whispers
  5.  Any reading and questions  that it is consistent with the target grammar and vocabulary
  6. Powerpoint with images that make students express past and present abilities
  7. Google Form with questions such as do you dance?  do you know how to swim?
  8. Online responsive quiz that can be taken using a cellphone
  9. Three blank sheets of paper

How to Express Ability in English – Lesson Plan

Introduction (15 Mins)

  1. Teacher introduces himself or herself if that is very first time teaching that group
  2. Students introduces themselves ( Names, place of residence and stuff they like)
  3. Teacher provides contact details and creates whatsapp group
  4. Teacher explains the chronogram
  5. Teacher answer question if they have them.
  6. PowerPoint that has pictures related to abilities

Schema Activation (10 Mins)

  1.  Students makes two or three teams and they play charades using the action verbs.

Pre-Task (65 Mins)

Task#1 ( 25 Mins)

  1. Teacher introduces the topic by giving example about examples of people expressing ability in the past and future.
  2. Students read the image descriptions and indicate which are key grammar structures to express ability and the action verb included.
  3.   Now that they students  have review some sentences, they make two rows  and play Chinese / English whispers

Task#2 (30 Mins)

  1. Students  make pairs, one of them has  a reading and another person has questions about the reading.
  2. They don’t show each other sheets,  a student makes a  question and the other students searches for the answers and responds orally once he or she has it.
  3. When they finished, they do the same exercises with another classmate

Task #3 ( 20 Mins)

  1. Students are sent a Powerpoint in a PDF Format and they have to express ability  using the images found in the PDF file as reference.
  2. They switch every two minutes and talk to other classmates about it

Main-Task (40 Mins)


  1. Student are sent a Google Form that has information about what the students is able to do, questions such as: Do you know how to drive?, Can you sing?Can you dance?
  2. Students asked those questions to each other
  3. Once they finish they have to tell each other abilities, then they have to report those abilities to another couple.

Post-Task (30 Mins)

Task #1 (15 Mins)

Teachers sends students a quiz tha  summarizes the topic covered today: How to Express Ability

Task #2  (15 Mins)

Students are given three blank sheet of paper, students take turns and write a sentence expressing ability.  Teacher review aspects such as grammar and spelling  and gives recommendations.

Learn More

If you are interested in information about task-based lesson, make sure to visit this page for more information

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