can

I strong UK [kæn] / US weak UK [kən] / US modal verb ***
Summary:

Can is usually followed by an infinitive without "to": I can speak French. Sometimes it is used without a following infinitive: Come and help us, if you can.
Can does not change its form, so the third person singular form does not end in "-s": She can speak Japanese. Questions and negatives are formed without "do": Can you swim? The negative form of can is cannot: We cannot allow this behaviour to continue. Cannot is often shortened in conversation or informal writing to can't: I can't find my brown jacket.
Can is often used in question tags: They can't hear us, can they?
Can has no participles and no infinitive form. Be able to is used as the infinitive to show ability or possibility: I want to be able to choose my own career.
Could is used as the past tense of can when it means that someone had the ability to do something, or that something was possible: New York was a place where anyone could start a business. But was/were able to is used for saying that someone actually succeeded in doing something: By climbing on the table he was able to reach the window. There is no future tense of can, but will be able to is used for saying that someone will have the ability to do something or that something will be possible in the future, especially after a long time: She'll be able to walk soon. A hundred years from now people will be able to visit Mars. Can is usually used when planning or deciding about the near future: We can go shopping tomorrow. There is no perfect tense of can, so has/have been able to is used: I haven't been able to phone my parents yet.
Get it right: can:
The negative form of the verb can is cannot. It is written almost always as one word, not as "can not" (two words): ? The quality of the information can not be guaranteed.
Right: The quality of the information cannot be guaranteed. ? You can not buy true friends or health.
Right: You cannot buy true friends or health.
1) have the ability or means to do something
a) to have the necessary ability, knowledge, money, or equipment to do something

"Can you swim?" "No I can't."

Ingrid could play the violin by the time she was six.

The machine can translate simple messages into 24 different languages.

They couldn't afford to pay for a proper funeral.

The UN has promised to help as much as it can.

b) used for saying that you see, hear, feel, taste, smell, understand, or remember something

Paul could hear someone calling his name.

There have been May Day celebrations here for as long as anyone can remember.

2) used for saying what is possible
a) used for saying whether the situation makes it possible for you to do something at a particular time

I'm sorry, Dr Brown can't speak to you now – she's got someone with her.

If it's fine tomorrow, we can go fishing.

How can I work with all this noise going on?

b) used for saying that it is possible to do something

You can travel from London to New York in under 6 hours these days.

Tickets can be bought from the Tourist Information Centre.

3) when nothing else is possible used when only one opinion, meaning, or decision is possible

How can I possibly refuse such a charming invitation?

Can there be any doubt about his intentions?

When he slams the door like that, it can mean only one thing – trouble.

4) used for saying what sometimes happens used for saying that something sometimes happens or is sometimes possible or true

Temperatures can reach 40 degrees C in the summer.

Even minor head injuries can be serious.

5) [always in negatives] when something seems very unlikely used for saying that you feel sure something is not possible or true

The hotel can't be far from here.

Surely he can't have forgotten about the wedding!

6) be allowed to do something to be allowed to do something, or to have the right or power to do it

You can borrow my calculator if you want.

Anyone aged 18 or over can vote in a general election.

You can't sit there. Those seats are reserved.

Only the President could order the armed forces into battle.

7) spoken used in requests, offers etc used in requests, or when offering or suggesting something

Can you tell me where Mr Lawson's office is?

Can I have another piece of that delicious cake?

Can I offer you something to drink?

Can I make a suggestion?

8) [always in negatives] when something should not happen used for emphasizing that something should not happen or continue

We can't go on borrowing money when there's no hope of ever paying it back.

These men cannot be allowed to profit from their criminal activities.

9) [usually in negatives or questions] mainly spoken used for expressing surprise used when you want to emphasize how surprised or shocked you are

He can't be here already! I haven't even started getting dressed.

Of course I'm not deceiving you. How can you say such a thing!

10) [usually in negatives or questions] spoken used for emphasizing how you feel used with verbs such as "say", "imagine", or "believe" when you are telling someone about a situation and you want to emphasize how strongly you feel about it

I can't tell you how relieved I am to know that everyone is safe.

You can guess how I felt when he said I was too old.

I can't believe she told him that.

11) spoken when someone will have to do something used for saying what someone will have to do, when you are annoyed with them or do not approve of them

If he doesn't want to come to work on time, he can go and look for another job.

what/who/where can...?spoken used when you cannot understand a situation and you are considering possible explanations

Who can be phoning us at this time of night?

They should have been here an hour ago. What can have happened to them?


II UK [kæn] / US noun [countable]
Word forms "can":
singular can plural cans
**
1) a closed metal container with round sides, for food or drinks. It is opened with a can opener. In British English the word tin is usually used if a can contains food, but not if it contains a drink

empty beer cans

a can of beans/soda

a) a metal container with round sides and a lid, used especially for holding liquids

There's a little paint left in the can.

a can of insect repellent

c) the amount of food, drink, paint etc that a metal container holds
can of:

Add two cans of tomatoes to the sauce and stir.

2) the can
American informal a prison
3) the can
American informal a toilet
See:
carry

III UK [kæn] / US verb [transitive]
Word forms "can":
present tense I/you/we/they can he/she/it cans present participle canning past tense canned past participle canned
1) to preserve food in metal containers by storing it without air
2) American informal to sack someone

English dictionary. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Can — Can, v. t. & i. Note: [The transitive use is obsolete.] [imp. {Could}.] [OE. cunnen, cannen (1st sing. pres. I can), to know, know how, be able, AS. cunnan, 1st sing. pres. ic cann or can, pl. cunnon, 1st sing. imp. c[=u][eth]e (for cun[eth]e); p …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • CAN — bezeichnet: einen meist männlichen Vornamen, siehe Can (Vorname) den alternativen Titel des deutschen Fernsehfilms „Wut“ von Züli Aladag, siehe Wut (Fernsehfilm) eine deutsche Rockband, siehe Can (Band) im Graffiti die Sprühdose (englisch für:… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • can — noun. Can is the word generally used in BrE for the container when the contents are liquid (a can of beer / a can of soup). When the contents are solid, tin is more usual (a tin of beans / a tin of peaches) but can is used for this too in AmE.… …   Modern English usage

  • CaN — bezeichnet: den männlichen Vornamen türkischen Ursprungs, siehe Can (Vorname) den alternativen Titel des deutschen Fernsehfilms Wut von Züli Aladag, siehe Wut (Fernsehfilm) die deutsche Rockband, siehe Can (Band) im Graffiti die Sprühdose… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Can. — bezeichnet: den männlichen Vornamen türkischen Ursprungs, siehe Can (Vorname) den alternativen Titel des deutschen Fernsehfilms Wut von Züli Aladag, siehe Wut (Fernsehfilm) die deutsche Rockband, siehe Can (Band) im Graffiti die Sprühdose… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Can-Am — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Can Am es una empresa canadiense fabricante de motocicletas, subsidiaria de Bombardier Recreational Products, una empresa multinacional también de origen canadiense. Origen y desarrollo La empresa se originó en 1973 …   Wikipedia Español

  • can — can1 [kan; , kən] v.aux. pt.could [ME < OE, 1st & 3d pers. sing., pres. indic., of cunnan, know, have power to, be able; common Gmc < IE base * gen , *gno > L gnoscere, KNOW; orig. meaning “to be able mentally or spiritually,” as… …   English World dictionary

  • can — Ⅰ. can [1] ► MODAL VERB (3rd sing. present can; past could) 1) be able to. 2) used to express doubt or surprise: he can t have finished. 3) used to indicate that something is typically the case: he could be very moody. 4) be permit …   English terms dictionary

  • Can — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. {{{image}}}   Sigles d une seule lettre   Sigles de deux lettres > Sigles de trois lettres …   Wikipédia en Français

  • can — vb Can, may are often confused in use. In its commonest sense can expresses ability, whether physical or mental {he can climb this pole} {he is only four, but he can read} {he will do it if he possibly can} {when Duty whispers low, thou must, the …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • can — cañ interj. cin (skardžiam suskambėjimui reikšti): Klausau tik cañ cañ su žvaguliais ir nuskambėjo tolyn Ds. Cañ cañ cañ – skambina pietų Gs. Tik cañ – ir iškrito (sudužo) langas Gs. Su nagu užkabinsi už dalgės – tik cañ (suskamba)! Jnšk …   Dictionary of the Lithuanian Language

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