In Grammar By Victoria

The modal verb CAN (COULD): the rules of use and example sentences

The first of modal verbs in English (modal verb) we consider the can, which has two forms: the present (Present Simple) — can; past tense (Past Simple) — could. Another form of this modal verb is a combination to be able to (equivalent) which can be used in all three planes of time — past, present and future tense. This is especially true for the time, the band Perfect (I have been able to), and the group Future (I shall be able to), which is used only a combination, but in an appropriate form the required time.

Learn modal verbs in the English language in the easiest cases in which they are used, supporting theoretical information needed example to all deposited in the memory, and in the future not to be confused and do not mix with other variants of the use of modal verbs. In English there are several. And we need to be clear, in any case or in any particular situation, we choose one or the other modal verb. Or, on the contrary, with the help of the modal verb, we have to translate the phrase, trying to convey exactly what they wanted to say, with all the connotations. Consider proposals from the modal verbs can, in practice, to understand how to use it.

So the modal verb can, we need to express:

  1. Mental or physical abilities.
  2. Can you drive? — Can you drive?

    Bungalows are for old people who can not climb the stairs. — Cabins are designed for older people who can not climb stairs.

    She can speak Japanese. — She can speak Japanese.

  3. Objectively existing opportunities.
  4. Nobody can buy health and happiness. — No one can buy health and happiness.

    One can not love and be wise. — It is impossible to love and to think intelligently at the same time

    You can not please all of the people all of the time. — You can never please everyone at once.

  5. Permit requests ban.
  6. Express authorization or request by a modal verb can be possible only in the affirmative and interrogative sentences. But in the form of negative sentences can not = can not is a measure of the ban.

    Can I keep your book till Sunday? — You can not, it is not mine. — I can leave your book until tomorrow? — No you can not. It is not mine.

    You can not put new wine in old bottles. — You can not pour new wine into old bottles.

    Can you lend me your car? — Could you lend me your car?

    The form can modal verb in the past tense could — in this case will be an indicator of a polite request.

    Could you do me a favour? — Will you do me a favor?

    To navigate with ease in the use of modal verbs can / could to express authorization requests can remember the following samples:

    Can do now — can do now

    Could do then — I could do then

    Could do now — could make

    I could have done — could do then.

  7. Wonder, doubt and mistrust.
  8. The surprise we find in the interrogative sentences with modal verbs can, but doubt and mistrust in negative sentences.

    Can Jack still be working? — Is Jack still works?

    Can it be raining? — Did it rain?

    Kate can not be still sleeping. — It can not be that Kate was still asleep.

Generally, each of these modal verbs — can / could / may / might / must — has its own assumptions and degree of confidence than the other. If we denote this degree as a percentage, we get about that modal verb can have a very low degree of assumptions, the probability is only 25%. As we can see in the examples, the translation of these proposals for the Russian language, we use the word confidence — can not be, really.

He can work round o’clock. — Maybe he works all day.

But the verb in this case could have expected with a slightly greater degree of confidence, 35%.

She could be reading now. — Maybe now it reads.

It should be noted that both can, and could, combined with perfect infinitive when used in interrogative and negative sentences express the inadmissibility, the improbability that the action took place in the past. We show this using the corresponding words (hardly hardly not trusted, can not be so, and so on).

He could not have said so. — I can not believe he said it.

She can not have learned to play chess so quickly. — It is unlikely that she learned so quickly to play chess.

He could not have done it. — He could not do it.

Besides the main occurrences of the modal verb can, there are structures that we remember as an algorithm in the future use when we meet a similar case. Here they are:

I can not but ask him about it. — I had no choice but to ask him about it.

It can not be possibly true. — It can not be that it was true.

I could not help laughing. — I could not help but laugh.

And last nuance. When in a certain situation, we mean that someone something did not work, but in the end, he was able to do it, that is, he was able to, then definitely choose the design was / were able to, and not a verb could.

She was not at home when I phoned her but I was able to contact her at her office. — She was not home when I called, but I was able to contact her office.

This topic is closely related to the other as described in the articles that need to pay attention:

  • «The modal verb MAY (MIGHT)»
  • «The modal verb DARE»

After reading them, we recommend to pass the following test: «Test # 1 on the use of modal verbs in the English language.»



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