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What is the difference between 能 and 会?

Don’t they both mean “could”? What is the difference between them?

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This has been covered on nearly every Chinese learning platform and is one of the first problems learners encounter. Without being too mean I do have to ask, what amount of prior research have you done?

会 means you have the knowledge necessary to do something

能 means you have the ability to do something (nothing preventing you from doing it)

lastly 可以 means you have permission to do something.

They all translate as "can" in English. There's some overlap between them but for a better comparison refer to this:

https://resources.allsetlearning.com/chinese/grammar/Comparing_%22hui,%22_%22neng,%22_%22keyi%22

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For some cases, 能 and 会 doesn't have too much difference, for example, 我能写字 and 我会写字。

However, in some examples, 能 and 会 can mean different implications. For example, 我能去 vs 我会去. and this is how I interpret it:

我能去 means you can go, but you don't have to go. Similar for 可以.

会 means you can go and you will go.

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As said in another answer:

会 means you have the knowledge necessary to do something

能 means you have the ability/permission to do something

可以 means you have permission to do something.

However, I think there's something missing from the answer when you regard these in terms of intent. In certain cases of using 会, you can be emphasizing that you not only can, but you intend to do something (我会去做功課 vs 我可以去做功課). They all translate as "can" in English, in many cases, but 会 can also be translated as "will" in certain cases.

MDBG 會/会

MDBG 能

MDBG 可以

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Maybe a look at the origins might help. You can look here or here. I can't say how accurate the links are.

I think, the original 会 meant "can, may by assent," or maybe "know." Part of 会 is mouth-speaking-yue 曰 yuē. English 'can' is rooted in the word 'know'.

Here are many experts in Chinese etymology who know much better than I.

会:聚合,合在一起
会合: meet
会议:meeting, conference

会,㑹 = from inverted-mouth-ji 亼 jí and mouth-speaking-yue 曰 yuē and (rem- 𡆧) from field-tian 田 tián from ancient rice-mi 米 mǐ

曾 = Compound 曽 mutant 曾 from mouth-speaking-yue 曰 yuē and (rem- 𡆧) from field-tian 田 tián and separation-ba 丷八 bā.

能 is a picture of a bear. I believe it originally meant power, strength. The origin of English "may" is also in power: "to be able to, have the power," thus 'can.'

能 = Component 能 from (rem- ⺝⺼月 yuè) from ribs-rou ⺼肉 ròu and mouth-si 厶 sī and (rem+ 匕 bǐ the-feet). (name- bear-neng 能 néng)

厶 represents the head or the mouth
⺼肉 represents the body
匕 represents the feet (it says here) but I have read this may be the claws. I like to think of them as claws.

Imagine, 50 000 years ago. A tiny, ancient Chinese man wandering the hills. A 500Kg bear must have been incredibly frightening and powerful in comparison, a living symbol of strength and unstoppable ability!

能:作功的本领 energy
能量的简称 [power]。如:化学能;机械能;电能

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