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Use of Modal verb Can is used to express Choice, ability, inability, Opportunity and Permission/Request. In spoken English Can modal verb is informal to use it's not a polite in speaking. For more polite we use Modal Verb Could.

Can + Verb


Can meaning is to talk about Choice, Ability, Opportunity etc.

Formula: Subject + Can + Verb 1st(form) + Object
  • He can run fast.
  • Alina can cook food.
  • Ali can ride a bike.
  • Negative: He cannot play cricket.
  • Interrogative: Can he play cricket?
  • Neg. Int: Can he not play cricket?
Formula: Subject + Can + Verb 1st(form) + Object

More Examples

Here are some more examples, Meaning and use of Can.

For Ability

We use modal verb can for when we are able or unable to do any work on current time.

  • I can surf well.
  • Ali can play good Cricket.
  • She can cook delicious food.
  • They can pass the exams.
  • Inability

  • She cannot cook good food.
  • Ali can't play the Guitar.
  • They can't play Cricket.
  • We can't sing a song.

For Permission/Request

We use can modal verb for Permission and Request, Be remember that it's informal to use.

  • Can I go outside?
  • Can you give me this book?
  • Can we go for a picnic?
  • You can watch TV after you have finished your homework.

For Choice

We also use can modal verb for when we have a right to select or choose.

  • You can join us.
  • You can take only two shirts from these.
  • You can come with us, It's up to you.
  • If you want to go outside, So you can go.

For Opportunity

We also use can for when we have an opportunity to do something.

  • Once school starts you can use the library.
  • You can play Cricket with Us.
  • If you want, so you can watch a movie with us.
  • She can join the party.