Modal “CAN” – With Explanations Exercises and Activities

Can” is a modal auxiliary verb and it is used to indicate abilities, to make requests, to indicate probability, or to give permissions. It is one of the auxiliary verbs called “modal verbs” in English. It does not change according to the subjects. So there is no different situation for “He, she, It”. The verb that follows is always infinitive, so it is very easy to use “can” in English conversations.

Formation of modal “can”

To make affirmative sentences we use “can + verb”. For negative sentences we use “cannot” or “can’t“. For questions we put the auxiliary “can” before the subject. The following animated sentences are examples of “can” so that you can see them in context.

  Can Where canWhen can


can swimcan runruncan not run rundrive



Positive (Affirmative) form of “can”

To form positive sentences just use a bare for of a verb after “can”.

  • I can swim.
  • They can watch TV.
  • Linda can play chess.
  • My friends can play football.

Negative form of “can”

To make negative sentences with “can” we use “not” together with “can“. The short form is “can’t

  • I can’t sleep well.
  • Nancy can’t understand the teacher.
  • Cats can’t fly.
  • She can’t keep secrets.

Interrogative form of “can”

To make questions (interrogative) with “can” we put “can” before the subject.

  • Can you play basketball?
  • Can I open the window?
  • Can I ask a question?
  • Can I help you?
  • Where can I go for holiday?
  • How can I speak English?

All sentence forms of “can”

“Can” Formula with example sentences
(+) Affirmative sentences (-) Negative sentences (?) Interrogative sentences
 I can play.  I can not play.  Can I play?
 You can play.  You can not play. Can you play?
 He can play.  He can not play.  Can he play?
 She can play.  She can not play.  Can she play?
 It can play.  It can not play.  Can it play?
 We can play.  We can not play. Can we play?
 They can play.  They can not play. Can they play?

❯❯ Learn simple present tense here
❯❯ Learn present continuous tense here
❯❯ Learn future simple tense (will) here
❯❯ Learn be going to future tense here
❯❯ Learn simple past tense here
❯❯ Learn past continuous tense here
❯❯ Learn present perfect tense here

Explanations and usages of modal “can”

You can learn usages and explanations of “can” below with examples and brief descriptions.

1- Ability

“Can” is used to describe an ability.

  • I can jump high, but my brother can’t.
  • She can sing a song.
  • My grandfather can use a computer.

2- Possibility

“Can” is also used to describe possibility or probability.

  • It can rain tomorrow.
  • I can come with you.
  • Can they win the game?
  • We can stay at home.
  • I can arrive at about 6 PM.
  • What do you think? Can I get 100 points?

3- Permission

To give permission or to ask for permission we can use “can”, as well.

  • OK. You can go.
  • Excuse me. Can I sit here?
  • Can I ask a question?
  • Can I come in?

4- Requests

  • Can I have a coffee, please?
  • Can you help me, please?
  • Can I have a glass of water, please?

Pictures with example sentences

You can learn “can” with images and example sentences below.

A dialogue example

Here is a dialogue to learn modal auxiliary “can”. You can make similar dialogues.

  1. Can you find my glasses, James?

    I can’t find them anywhere.

  2. Sure.

    Can you wait for sometime.

    Because mom is on the phone.

  3. OK. You can look for it after your call.

  4. Thanks.

Translate the sentences into your native language.

You can see random examples of “can” auxiliary below. After you read, translate them into your native language.

Sentence scramble game

You will see scrambled words of sentences that includes modal “can”. Click on the words in the right order to make sentences.


Example sentences

The sentences below are helpful to see modal auxiliary “can” in context.

10 examples of “can”

  1. I can speak English a little.
  2. I can buy that dress.
  3. You can join our club.
  4. Mr. Davis cannot use a PC.
  5. I can’t stand lies.
  6. You can visit a lot of historical places here.
  7. Jennifer can’t save money.
  8. If you have a problem, you can call me
  9. I can’t eat with my left hand.
  10. My daughter can wear her clothes.

Questions and with answers

Read the questions and the answers below to learn how to use “can”.

10 questions and answers about “can”

  1. Can I use your phone, please?
    Yes, you can.
  2. Can you hear me?
    Yes, I can hear you.
  3. Can you catch fish?
    No, I can’t catch fish.
  4. Can you make a kite?
    Yes, I can make a kite.
  5. Can I ask a question, please?
    Yes, you can.
  6. Can penguins fly?
    No, they can’t fly.
  7. Where can I park my car?
    You can park your car there.
  8. How can I go to the museum?
    You can go by taxi.
  9. How can I learn to play tennis?
    You can go to a tennis club.
  10. Who can fly a drone?
    Kevin can fly a drone.
  11. Can you design a toy?
    Yes, I can design a toy.

Reading passage

You can read the passage below to learn the modal “can”.
Reading passage:
My name is Adrian. I am an amateur footballer. I can play different games, but football is my favourite. I can run fast. I can control the ball very well. I am a footballer, so I can’t eat junk food. Because it is not good for my body. I can only eat healthy food. My friends can play well, too. We have a good team. I think, we can be the champion this year.

External resources:
You can visit British Council page and learn modal “can”, or watch a video to learn “can” modal auxiliary here.

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