'Can' is one of the most commonly known modals in English grammar. In this lesson, we will explain this modal verb in detail.
The modal verb or modal auxiliary verb can is a commonly-used word. It is used to add more information about the function of the main verb.
Properties of 'Can'
- Can as a modal verb is never conjugated.
- Can is used to make questions or negations.
- Can is used to refer to actions happening in the present or future.
- Modal verbs including can are used once in a sentence.
'Can' as a Modal Verb
The modal verb can is generally used to show ability or probability but it has more functions. To learn more, take a look:
- Can is used to indicate ability:
- Can is used to indicate possibility/probability:
- Can is used for asking or giving permission:
- Can is used for requesting someone to do something:
- Can is used for giving offers:
- Can is used for making suggestions:
- Can is used to talk about scientific facts:
- Can is used to show the potential in someone or something:
- The negative form of can is cannot and it is used to show the speaker’s deduction based on available information. For example:
Can is used in the main clause in conditional type 1. For example:
If you try harder, you
Position in a Sentence
Modal verbs take bare infinitives. In other words, we need the basic form of the main verb after the modal verb can. For example:
'Walk' is a bare infinitive.
Modal verbs in a sentence can be negated. To make the modal verb can negative, add 'not.' For example:
Note that there is no space between 'can' and 'not.'
The contraction is 'can't.'
To make a question with the modal verb can, an inversion is needed. That is the modal verb can and the subject are inverted. For example: