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

Can, can’t – grammar chart

can, can't – ability, possibility, permission

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Can, can’t – form

Infinitive without to

We use caninfinitive without to.

  • I can swim(NOT I can to swim.)
  • We can’t come. (NOT We can’t to come.)

No -s after he/she/it

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

  • He can swim. (NOT He cans swim).

No 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? (NOT Do you can swim?)
  • He can’t swim. (NOT He don’t can swim.)

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?