In the following sentence:


  • 能 means "can", "be able to ~"

  • 得以 also means "can", "be able to ~"

So this is in conflict with each other. For me it seems that one word is enough in this context.

Pleco does not have the entry for 能得以, so I think it is not an idiom here.

Why are two words that seemingly mean the same thing used together in this context? What makes it different from just using a single word?

  • bkrs: 得以 借此>可以;能够:必须放手发动群众,让群众的意见得以充分发表出来。 déyǐ [so that...can(may)] 指借某事物而能做某事; 能够, 可以 充分发扬民主, 使每个人的意见得以充分发表出来 人皆得以隶使之。 --明·张溥《五人墓碑记》able to so that sb can enabling in order to finally in a position to with sth in view(借此可以) so that ... can ...; so that ... may ...: 我把所有事实都告诉你,使你得以自己作出判断。 I'll give you all the facts so that you can judge for yourself. déyǐ be able to (as a result of sth.) 他来了以后,这个问题才得以解决。 After he came, this problem achieved a solution. – user6065 Jun 21 '18 at 0:36
  • as for "redundancy", note that potential complement is sometimes used along with 能源动词 "能" e.g. 我能拿得来那本书 see e.g. comments at chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/16913/… – user6065 Jun 21 '18 at 0:50

(能)(得以) = (can) (be allowed to/ get to be)


"能得以晉級" = 能(can) 得以晉級(be allowed to advance )

"未能得以脫罪" = 未能 (cannot) 得以脫罪(get to be acquitted)


With "这就是 ~~~~ 的缘由" (this is the reason of ~~~ ) in the sentence, "之所以" (the reason why) is redundant.

Instead of using 能得以, you can make it more simple by just using 能 (can) or 得以(be allowed to/ get to be)

  • 得以 (more literary)
  • 能 (more colloquial)

The following sentences are more grammatically fluent than the one in question

"这就是 [千百年来, 中国书法得以传承] 的缘由" emphasize the 'long time'

"这就是 [中国书法()传承千百年] 的缘由" or "这就是 [中国书法(得以)传承千百年] 的缘由" emphasize the subject itself

  • If you must use "之所以", you should write the sentence like the following:

"中国书法 [之所以] 能传承千百年, 是因为 (insert reasons)"

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  • 1
    I am not sure why this answer was so upvoted. It's nice to point out the redundancy, but OP's question is mainly about Why are two words ( 能,得以) that seemingly mean the same thing used together in this context? What makes it different from just using a single word? I don't see this has been addressed that much in it though. – dan Jun 21 '18 at 23:11
  • @dan It is on the first line : "(能)[得以]" = "(can) [be allowed to]" Which means, "能" and "得以" do not mean the same thing. I even provided examples in other contexts ; "(能)[得以]晉級" doesn't mean "(can) [able to] advance", it means "(can) [be allowed to] advance". I also pointed out that either '能' or '得以' alone is enough to express the sentiment. – Tang Ho Jun 22 '18 at 1:39
  • Look at my example #2, "未能得以脫罪" = 未能 (cannot) 得以脫罪(get to be acquitted); 能 has negative forms 未能; 不能; 没能; but 得以 is a set term (get to be/ be allowed to) that doesn't has negative forms – Tang Ho Jun 22 '18 at 1:48
  • "Be allowed to" might not be the appropriate interpretation of 得以. Maybe, "get to be" is ok, but it could simply be "get". 得以 is just a literary version of 得到, in my opinion. – dan Jun 22 '18 at 2:17
  • @dan You cannot replace 得以生還 (get to survive) with 得到生還; 得以(get to) is different from 得到 (get) – Tang Ho Jun 22 '18 at 2:19

能得以 can be comprehended as 能够得到.

There's a nuance between 能得以传承 and 能传承. 能得以传承 implies that it can be inherited by people, and people would inherit because of that. It's kinda a proactive inheriting. 能传承 means something being able to pass through the generations, but not addressing people would be willing to inherit it.

Hope this clear to you.

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  • Yes. i didn't read any answers before writing mine. This 1st one I read. It is good answer. – Abe Shudug Jun 24 '18 at 19:58

This is definitely a rambling expression.

However, the problem is not 能得以, but 之所以 and 能得以.

It could be



得以 means 'via that' or 'by that', old time 虚词 is not necessary, the sentence could rewrite to


The 以 can also used for 被,so sometimes we may write 能得以 or 之所以, but use both is really redundant.

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Instead of answering what 能得以 means, let's break this down into


The reason we are able to get/obtain「Y」is because of「X」.


  • 「X」- 中國書法千百年來, Millenia of Chinese Calligraphic traditions (paraphrased)
  • 「Y」- 以傳承, Something that can be inherited; inheritable


The reason we are able to obtain something inheritable is because of the millenia of Chinese calligraphic traditions.

This is a truly terrible sentence to behold, as you can see from the amount of redundancies. What the author of this sentence is really trying to say is that

  • Chinese calligraphy is a tradition that is valuable, beautiful and worthy of continuation/inheritance

  • The tradition has developed over a period of thousands of years

If I were to give a translation which captured something like this idea, I would say

We are the proud inheritors of the millenia-old tradition of Chinese calligraphy.

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Where did you see the sentence? It's terribly written. Lots of redundancy.

  1. 这就是中国书法千百年来之所以能传承的缘由。
  2. 这就是中国书法千百年来得以传承的缘由。

Pick one.

IMO the second sentence is shorter and denser in meaning, so it's slightly better in compositions, but you don't have to bother if you're learning Chinese as a second language.

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This is because of the semantic value of the word 以 。 能得 is the ability of achieving 以 through 能. I suggest looking at compound words involving both characters.

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