Meaning of “can” - Learner’s Dictionary


modal verb us uk strong /kæn/ weak /kən, kn/ past tense and past participle could

A1 to be able to do something:

Anna can speak four languages.
We can't pay the rent.
Can you drive?

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A1 to be allowed to do something:

You can't park here.
Can I go now?

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?

A1 used to politely offer to do something:

Can I carry those bags for you?

A2 used to talk about what is possible:

You can buy stamps from the shop on the corner.
Smoking can cause cancer.

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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.

B1 used to show surprise:

You can't possibly be hungry already!
Can you believe it?

(Definition of “can modal verb” from the Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)