it is typically restricted to military aircraft except for the legendary Concorde, which was able to speeds of up to three times that of passenger planes today

Why are we using 'was able to' with 'speeds' Was able to = past modal Speed-s=present verb

  • 2
    It's ungrammatical. There is probably a word missing. Can you check the source? Nov 13 '20 at 20:42

This is very likely a misprint.

The sentence as written is not grammatical. The most likely fix is that there is a missing word before "speeds". Good candidates for the missing word are "achieve" or "reach" or various synonyms.

This would make "speeds" not a present tense verb but a plural noun.

"Speeds of up to..." is a very common noun phrase.

There are other less likely solutions, which require more changes, such as "was able to speed [along at] up to three times [the speed of] passenger planes today.


Apart from a missing word, the past tense is used in

Concorde was able to [achieve] speeds of...

because it no longer flies. The 'feature' (ultrasonic speed?) is still used, so

it is typically restricted to military aircraft

using the present tense.

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