can modal verb - definition in the American English Dictionary - Cambridge Dictionaries Online

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English definition of “can”

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can

modal verb  us   /kæn, kən/ (present tense can, past tense could  /kʊd, kəd/ )

can modal verb (ABLE)

to be able to: She can speak four languages. We’re doing the best we can, but we won’t make our deadline.

can modal verb (PERMIT)

to be allowed or to have permission: You can park on the street. You can do it by yourself. Can is also used to request something: Can you help me lift this box? Can I have a tissue, please?Note: Can is usually used in standard spoken English when asking for permission. It is acceptable in most forms of written English, although in very formal writing, such as official instructions, may is often used instead: Persons under 14 unaccompanied by an adult may not enter.

can modal verb (BE POSSIBLE)

used to express possibility in the present: You can get stamps at the post office.

can modal verb (OFFER)

used in polite offers of help or by someone who provides service, as in a store: Can I help you with those bags?
(Definition of can modal verb from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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