Explanations » A1 Grammar Explanations » Can, can’t – ability, possibility, permission
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  • Can, can’t – Grammar chart

    Grammar chart displaying the form and use of modal verbs 'can' and 'can't' for expressing ability, permission, and possibility, with correct and incorrect example sentences.

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    Can, can’t – Form

    Infinitive without to

    We use caninfinitive without to.

    • I can swim. blank
    • I can to swim. blank
    • We can’t come. blank
    • We can’t to come. blank

    Don’t use -s after he/she/it

    We don’t add -s after he/she/it. We use can for all persons.

    • He can swim. blank
    • He cans swim. blank

    Don’t use do/don’t

    Can is an auxiliary verb and has a negative and interrogative form. We don’t use do/don’t to make questions and negatives.

    • Can you swim? blank
    • Do you can swim? blank
    • He can’t swim. blank
    • He don’t can swim. blank

    Can, can’t – Use


    We use can/can’t to talk about ability in the present (=things that we know how to do).

    • Laura can sing very well. 
    • I can’t speak German. 


    We use can/can’t to ask for permission or to say if something is possible or not.

    • Can I sit here?
    • You can’t vote if you aren’t 18 years old. 
    • I’m sorry, but I can’t come to the party. 

    Ask for something

    We use can/can’t to ask for something and to order in bars, restaurants, shops, etc.

    • Can you lend me some money?
    • Can I have some water, please?
    • Can I have a burger and a soda?