Welcome to twominenglish.com. Teaching you English through two-minute lessons.
In this lesson we will study the correct usage of ‘can’ in a conversation.
Lucy: ‘Can’ is a modal auxiliary verb. It’s used to express certain meanings - for example possibility, ability, requests or permission. Mark, why don’t you give me some examples?
Mark: I can leave my car in that parking space.
Lucy: Okay. You’re saying that you’ll possibly leave your car there.
Mark: Can you help me with my work?
Lucy: This is a good one because it’s an informal request. We’re friends so it’s appropriate.
Mark: Can I smoke in this room?
Lucy: Now you’ve just used ‘can’ to ask for my permission to do something.
Lucy: You can’t smoke in here. Please go outside.
Mark: Okay, I understood. You used the negative which means I don’t have permission to smoke in here.
Lucy: That is correct. Now let me give you an example, Mark. I can speak Portuguese. Can you?
Mark: No, I cannot. It’s cool that you have the ability to speak Portuguese. I can only speak English.
Lucy: Now let’s see some sample conversations:
Karen: Hey Jamie. Can you help me out with something?
Jamie: Yes, I can. I just need to finish some work here first.
Karen: No problem. When will you be free?
Jamie: In half an hour or so.
Karen: Okay. I can wait that much. I’ll be outside.
Alan: Can you play any instruments, Garry?
Garry: No, I cannot. Can you?
Alan: Yes, I can play the guitar.
Garry: That's great. I myself can't play any instruments but I can sing well.
Alan: Yes, you can. I've heard you before.
Garry: Truth is I love music. And I can memorize things fast so I know many lyrics by heart.
Alan: I can see now why you always have some music on.
Garry: Yes, I can't live without good music.