Can / Can't

CAN / CAN'T shows ability, inability, request, permission, possibility, and inappropriateness.


a. I can speak English.
b. You can leave early today.
c. Can I come in, please?


Positive: Subject + CAN + Verb1

Negative: Subject + CAN'T + Verb1
Hecanrunvery vestYoucan'trunvery fast
Hecansitin the gardenHecan'tsitin the garden
Shecancomewith usShecan'tcomewith us
Itcanjumpto the other sideItcan'tjumpto the other side
Wecanmakedelicious cakesWecan'tmakedelicious cakes
Youcanpassthe examYoucan'tpassthe exam
Theycan drawpicturesTheycan'tdrawpictures

NOTE: Negative form of CAN is either “cannot” or “can not” and its negative contraction is “Can’t”. In British English, it is pronounced /ka:nt/ but in American English, it is /kent/.

NOTE: Negative “YES/NO QUESTIONS” are formed in two ways:
1. Can you not come today?Can he read fast?
2. Can’t you come today?Can’t he read fast?

Can Yes/No Questions and Answers Chart

Can WH Information Questions and Answers Chart


We use “CAN” to express

1. Ability

Sarven can ride a bike.
He can speak Japanese.
I can play table tennis.
We can cook.
They can eat with chop sticks.
Paul and Ingrid can ski.

2. Inability

He can’t ride a horse.
I can’t type very fast.
We can’t lift 100 kilos.
Jan can not run fast.
Alicia cannot drive a car.

3. Request

Can you help me?
Can you tell me the way to the museum?
Can you come here a minute please?

4. Permissions

Can I use your cell phone?
Can I take a day off?
Can I smoke here?
Can I go out?

Typical responses: Certainly. Yes, certainly. Of course. Of course you can. Sure (informal) … etc

5. Possibility

The florist can deliver the bouquet early.
My friend can visit me this week

Note: can is not normal used to describe future possibility in the positive form.

INCORRECT: It can rain tomorrow.

6. Inappropriateness

You can’t wear that dress! It is indecent.
You can’t smoke in this building. It is illegal.
You can’t ask for information here. This is not information desk.
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