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I sometimes encounter sentences that use "be able to," which sounds redundant or unnecessary to me. Here is an example:

You have to find data, details, and testimonies that are able to support your arguments.

Personally, I would rewrite the sentence without that phrase since the resulting sentence will be shorter. The resulting sentence--at least from my perspective--means the same thing:

You have to find data, details, and testimonies that support your arguments.

First, am I correct in assuming that they mean the same thing? I realize that the presence of "be able to" puts stress on ability, but for the purposes of limiting what kind of "testimonies" to look for, both sentences are helpful. It's just that one is longer (the one with "be able to").

Is it a matter of redundancy? As far as I understand the sentence, testimonies will either support an argument or not. Hence, saying that a testimony should have the ability to support the argument is already superfluous. If I'm mistaken, please let me know.

When should we not use "be able to" in constructions such as the sentence I presented above?

Is there a set of rules to consult for this kind of issue? Where can I find the rule(s)? I've been scouring books and the net, but I can't find anything about "be able to" and redundancy.

Thanks in advance for the answers!

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    Usually you use "can" in place of "be able to" when you are referring to inanimate objects such as data, evidence, etc. Why do you think you can drop "can" before support in your second example sentence? Can implies possibilities or capabilites and without it, the meaning can't be the same. – user140086 Oct 27 '16 at 11:09
  • "... that support..." mean that they inherently support it, that is one step further than being able to. Consider "I can fly" vs "I fly / I'm flying." – MorganFR Oct 27 '16 at 11:11
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    It is one thing to talk about people "who are able to read", another altogether to talk about people "who read". – WS2 Oct 27 '16 at 11:12
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    Supporting evidence can either directly or indirectly support an argument. For this reason, using are able to may be a necessary qualification. – Mick Oct 27 '16 at 11:12
  • @MorganFR, yes, that's what I am thinking about. The emphasis is on the inherent characteristic rather than ability. – Rchrd Oct 27 '16 at 11:35

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