‘can’

the use of modal ‘can’

 

We use ‘can’ to talk about ‘possibility’.

  • Can you do that?

  • I can’t manage to do that.

  • You can leave your car in that parking space.

  • You cannot smoke in here.

Notice that there are two negative forms: ‘can’t’ and ‘cannot’. These mean exactly the same thing. When we are speaking, we usually say ‘can’t’.

We use ‘can’ to talk about ‘ability’.

  • I can speak French.

  • I can’t drive.

We use ‘can’ to ask for and give permission. (We also use ‘may’ for this but is more formal and much less common.)

  • Can I speak to you or are you too busy?

  • You can use my phone.

  • You can’t come in.

We use ‘can’ in offers, requests and instructions.

  • Can I help?

  • Can you give me a hand?

  • When you finish that, you can take out the garbage.

We use ‘can’ with ‘see’ ‘hear’ ‘feel’ ‘smell’ ‘taste’ to talk about something which is happening now . (Where you would use the present continuous with most other verbs.)

  • I can smell something burning.

  • Can you hear that noise?

  • I can’t see anything.

We can use ‘can’t’ for deduction. The opposite of ‘can’t’ in this context is ‘must’.

tengkp

 

 

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