Using Can in English

English Grammar 31 March 2010 | 4 Comments

The word ‘can’ is used a lot in the English language. Here are some of the uses:

You can use ‘can’ to talk about possibility of something happening. (You can also use ‘could’ here.)

Can I do that?
I cannot run a marathon.
You can park your car right here.

‘Can’ has 2 negative forms. ‘Cannot’ and the contraction ‘can’t’ We usually use ‘can’t’ when we are speaking.

I can’t go with you today.
She cannot eat peanut butter.

You can use ‘can’ to talk about ability or opportunity. (Another phrase you can use here is ‘to be able to.’)

I can speak English.
I can swim.
I have free time. I can help her now.

You can also use ‘can’ to ask permission for something. (You can also use ‘may’ or ‘could’ here. ‘May’ is more polite.)

Can I go to the park with you today?
Can I come in?

Giving instructions is another way to use ‘can’.

After you make your bed, you can go and sweep the kitchen.

You can use ‘can’t’ for deduction.
You can’t be tired, you just woke up.

And don’t forget the noun ‘can’.

Will you take the can of corn out of the pantry? (a metal container of food)
I’m going to kick him in his can. (the ‘bottom’ of a person)
She needs to run to the can. (another word for toilet)

Lastly there is the ‘can-can’ or (cancan) which is the French dance with high kicks.

She loves to dance the cancan in France!

4 Responses on “Using Can in English”

  1. oxwinter says:

    I remember that…
    A canner can can a can which he can can, but he cannot can a can which he cannot.

    Am I right ?

  2. Yvonne says:

    That is awesome. I have never heard it before. 🙂 But, I love it!

  3. Uzair Fasihi says:

    Can I speak english in 1 month?

  4. Yvonne says:

    That is a good use of ‘can’. You can definately learn a lot in 1 month. It depends how many hours you can study! Let me know if I can help! And thanks for coming to my Web Site.

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