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Definition of “can” - English Dictionary

"can" in American English

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cannoun [C]

 us   /kæn/
  • can noun [C] (CONTAINER)

a ​metalcontainer, esp. a ​closed, ​cylindricalcontainer in which ​food and ​drink are packaged: a ​gas/​watering can The ​vendingmachine has ​soda in cans.
A can is also the ​amount of ​food or ​drink that a can ​holds: I had a can of ​soup for ​lunch.

canverb [T]

 us   /kæn/ (-nn-)
  • can verb [T] (CONTAIN)

to ​preservefood by putting it into a can or into a ​jar (= ​glasscontainer) from which the ​air is ​removed: They can all ​kinds of ​fruit.
slang If you get ​canned, you are ​dismissed from ​yourjob: No, I’m not on ​vacation – I got ​canned last ​week.

canmodal 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 ​ourdeadline.
  • 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 ​expresspossibility in the ​present: You can get ​stamps at the ​postoffice.
  • can modal verb (OFFER)

used in ​politeoffers of ​help or by someone who ​providesservice, as in a ​store: Can I ​help you with those ​bags?
(Definition of can from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)







"can" in British English

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canmodal verb

uk   strong /kæn/ weak /kən/  us   /kæn/  /kən/
  • can modal verb (ABILITY)

A1 to be ​able to: Can you ​drive? She can ​speak four ​languages. Can you ​read that ​sign from this ​distance? The ​doctors are doing all that they can, but she's still not ​breathingproperly. Do the ​best you can - I ​realize the ​circumstances are not ​ideal. If the ​party is ​awful, we can alwaysleave (= that would be one ​possiblesolution to ​ourproblem). "She's really ​furious about it." "Can you ​blame her (= I'm not ​surprised)?"
can do US informal
used to say that you can and will do something: "Will you ​mail this ​letter for me, ​please?" "Can do." "I need you to ​pick up the ​kids today." "Sorry, no can do (= no I can't)."

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • can modal verb (PERMISSION)

A1 to be ​allowed to: Can I use ​yourbike, John? You can ​park over there. You can have a ​piece of ​cake after you've ​eatenyourvegetables!
informal sometimes used to ​tell someone ​angrily to do something: If you ​carry on being ​horrible to ​yoursister, Sophie, you can just go to ​bed!

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • can modal verb (REQUEST)

A1 used to ​request something: If you ​see Brett, can you ​tell him I'm in ​town next ​weekend? Can you make a little less ​noise, ​please? I'm ​trying to ​work.

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • can modal verb (POSSIBILITY)

A2 used to ​expresspossibility: You can get ​stamps from the ​localnewsagents. You can get very ​nastyskindiseases from ​bathing in ​dirtywater. Smoking can ​causecancer. Noise can be ​quite a ​problem when you're ​living in a ​flat. He can be really ​annoying at ​times (= he is sometimes very ​annoying).

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • can modal verb (OFFER)

A1 used in ​politeoffers of ​help: Can I ​help you with those ​bags? I'm ​afraid Ms Ferguson has already ​left the ​office. Can I be of any ​help?

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

cannoun

uk   /kæn/  us   /kæn/
  • can noun (CONTAINER)

A2 [C] (also tin can, UK also tin) a ​closedmetalcontainer, ​especially cylinder-shaped, in which some ​types of ​drink and ​food are ​sold: a can of ​soup/​beans
[C] (UK also tin) the ​amount of ​food or ​drink that is ​contained in a can: You'll need a can of ​tuna for this ​recipe.
[C] (UK also tin) a ​metalcontainer, ​especially one with a ​lid, ​handle, and ​shapedopening for ​pouring: an oil can a can of ​paint
  • can noun (PRISON)

the can [S] US
informal forprison: He ​spent ten ​years in the can for ​armedrobbery.

canverb [T]

uk   /kæn/  us   /kæn/ (-nn-)
(Definition of can from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"can" in Business English

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canverb [T]

uk     us   strong /kæn/ weak /kən, kn/ (-nn-)
PRODUCTION to put ​food or drink into a ​closed metal ​container to preserve it: canned ​dogfoods.
US informal HR to ​remove someone from their ​job: After becoming ​partner in May of last ​year, she was canned five months later.
(Definition of can from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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“can” in Business English

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