Can: Ability, 1

 
 
 
 
Can: Ability; Being Able To, Know How to Do Something

The modal auxiliary verb can has several meanings:

1. Can means to being able or know how to do something (I can swim).
2. Can also expresses being allowed to or having the right to do something (People 18 and over can vote).
3. Can’t describes an improbability (You must be joking. You can’t be serious.)
 
 


 
 
 
 
In this lesson, we go over the first meaning.
Positive Sentence Structure with Can:

Note: the past form of can is could: My grandfather could do somersaults when he was young.

 (+): Subject + can/could + verb-1 (base verb).

Examples:
• I can speak Aymara.
• One of my coworkers can read and write Thai.
• Neslihan can set up and run a small business.
• Our coach could do 100 sit ups, 70 push ups, and 20 chin ups—when he was young.

 

Negative Sentence Structure with Can:

  (-): Subject + can not/cannot/couldn’t + verb-1.

Examples:
• I can’t drink milk; I’m lactose intolerant.
• Her brother couldn’t play football very well.
• Mrs. Siriwat can’t read your handwriting.
• That telephone can’t make long distance calls.

Yes-No Questions with Can and Could:

  Y-N Q: Can/Could + subject + verb-1?

 

Examples:
Can you dance the Rumba? —> Sure! Watch me!
Can the chef prepare a First Class dish? —> Anytime.
Can someone deliver the opening speech? —> Guinevere can.
Could you do algebra in high school? —> It was a piece of cake!—but I’ve forgotten everything.

WH Questions with Can:

 WH-Q word + can (can’t) + subject + verb-1?
Who/What + can (can’t) + verb-1?

Examples:
• Why can’t these applicants read well? —> Don’t look at me.
• Where can I buy some aspirin? —> There’s a pharmacy (chemist’s) 100 m in that direction.
• Who can fix my car? —> My cousin’s friend can.

 
 
 
 

 
 

 
 
 
 


Answer the following questions or respond to the following statements. Say why and give examples.

A. General

 

1. I can ride a bicycle, swim, and use a smart phone. Yes or no?

2. Can you or your friends paint, draw, sculpt or do any sort of artwork? Could you paint and draw in school?

3. I can play a musical instrument. True or false? Can your friends play any musical instruments? Which ones? How did you or they learn to play it?

4. All my friends, family, and relatives can use a computer and the internet. Is this right or wrong?

5. Can you dance? Are you good at dancing? Can you or your friends sing very well?

6. What can Superman do? Superman can . . . . .
 
 
 
 

     

 
 
 
 
B. Academic

7. I can speak a foreign language. Is this correct or incorrect? How did you learn them? What about your friends?

8. Can you give a speech or presentation in front of your class or colleagues? How do you feel when you do this?

9. My right-hand is my dominant hand (I write with my right hand). Is this right or wrong? Which is your dominant hand? Can you write with your non-dominant (left) hand. Are you or any of your friends left-handed?

10. My friends and I can create a great Facebook page or blogs. Yes or no?

11. Can you (or your friends) get straight A’s (top marks) in school or university? How do you do it? What’s the secret?
 
 
 
 

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