One Point English Lesson: Using Can

Michael Uncategorized Leave a Comment

You can always find a taxi in front of the train station

Can is a versatile word in English and has several uses. Let’s have a look at this word today.

We use can to talk about ability, and generally this ability comes after a certain amount of practice or repitition:

  • Can you cook well?
  • How many slices of pizza can you eat?
  • Do you know if Jenny can sing?

We use can to talk about learned knowledge, and generally this knowledge comes after a certain amount of study:

  • Can you speak Japanese?
  • I think Chris can answer any type of grammar question.
  • Do you know if Jenny can understand this math problem?

We use can to talk about having the opportunity to do something

  • Tourists in NYC can experience so many things.
  • In a university, you can meet many students from various countries.
  • You can find all kinds of books in that shop.

We use can to express doubt or surprise about a situation

  • The teacher spoke so fast. You can’t have understood him.
  • Jane is three hours late. Where can she be?
  • It can’t rain tomorrow! We are supposed to have a beach party.

We use can to express permission

  • You can watch TV after you finish your homework.
  • In some states, you can drive 65mph on the highway.
  • Mom said I can have a second piece of chocolate cake.

We use can to make requests

  • Can you help me with my homework?
  • I’m thirsty. Can I have a cool drink?
  • Can we take a break from studying now? I’m tired.

We use can to make a suggestion or offer

  • We can take a break now if you’d like.
  • Joe: What do you want to eat for dinner?
  • Bob: We can order pizza!
  • Joe: Or, we can go out and have a burger.

We also use can to talk about usual or typical situations

  • Working long hours can be dangerous for your health.
  • Be careful of that dog. He can be quite aggressive.
  • Bosses and teachers can be quite demanding.

Do you know another way to use can? Leave a comment here and let me know.

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Thanks for studying today!