Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “can”

See all translations

can

modal verb
 
 
strong /kæn/ weak /kən, kn/ ( past tense and past participle could)
ABILITY A1 to be able to do something: Anna can speak four languages. We can't pay the rent. Can you drive?Skill, talent and ability
PERMISSION A1 to be allowed to do something: You can't park here. Can I go now?Allowing and permitting
ASK A1 used to ask someone to do or provide something: Can you tell her to meet me outside? Can I have a drink of water?Making appeals and requests
OFFER A1 used to politely offer to do something: Can I carry those bags for you?Polite expressions
POSSIBLE A2 used to talk about what is possible: You can buy stamps from the shop on the corner. Smoking can cause cancer.Possible and probable
TYPICAL B2 used to talk about how someone often behaves or what something is often like: She can be really rude at times. This area can be dangerous at night.Describing and telling stories
SURPRISE B1 used to show surprise: You can't possibly be hungry already! Can you believe it? Feelings of surprise and amazement
(Definition of can modal verb from the Cambridge Learners Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “can” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

thug

a man who acts violently, especially to commit a crime

Word of the Day

The way we move (Verbs for walking and running)

by Kate Woodford,
March 25, 2015
​​​ This week we’re looking at interesting ways to describe the way that people move. Most of the verbs that we’ll be considering describe how fast or slow people move. Others describe the attitude or state of mind of the person walking or running. Some describe both. Starting with verbs for walking slowly,

Read More 

crossfit noun

March 23, 2015
high-intensity strength training Two women in strappy dresses discussed how much weight they could snatch

Read More