Potential form VS plain+ことができる


I’m learning Japanese with Minna no Nihongo, and in the first book I’ve learned that to say about a possibility of something we use Plain Verb Form + ことができる, e.g. 見ることができる.

Today in lesson 27 I’ve met the Potential Form: 見られる.
What is the difference between these two constructions?

For example, is there any difference between these two sentences?
(1) しんじゅくで今くろさわの映画が見ることができます。
(2) しんじゅくで今くろさわの映画が見られます。

I can’t tell you exactly what, grammatically or linguistically speaking, is different, but regarding usage, the potential form is used almost exclusively in informal situations.
I’m not sure about it and hopefully someone with more knowledge will correct me, but to me the 〜ことができる form sounds like you put a lot of emphasis on what you want to say that you can do.
I’m really not sure though, so take my guess with a grain of salt.
In class we also learned the ことができる form before the potential form, so maybe it’s because it’s easier to learn for a beginner instead of remembering the potential forms.

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There is no difference in meaning, but as was mentioned, the standard potential form is more common in speech.

I will say you will see the ことができる version in writing, often as a way to keep the phrasing from being repetitive when you need to express potentiality repeatedly.


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