can modal verb Meaning in the Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo

Meaning of “can” - Learner’s Dictionary

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 Learner’s Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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