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Can

Can.png

Explain

He can play football.

He can not play football.

Subject + can + verb + nounnoun phrase

I can speak

I can speak Japanese.

He can play
They can play

He can play the piano.

They can play cards.

Check out the blogs for more on determiners.

She can use

She can use a sewing machine.

I can draw

I can draw a dog

She can make

My mum can make risotto.

Vocabulary
Verbs

With

Subjectpresent tense verb + with + noun / noun phrase

I pay with

I pay with credit card.

I eat with

I eat with chopsticks.

I see with

I see with glasses.

Present - positive

Subject + can + verb + noun / noun phrase

can / reserve / I / a table.

I can reserve a table.

speak / My mum / can / English

Answer

My mum can speak English.

with / pay / can / You / credit card or cash

Answer

You can pay with credit card or cash.

You / that train / take / St. Paul's Cathedral / to

Answer

You can take that train to St. Paul's Cathedral.

good / The waiter / red wine / recommend / can

Answer

The waiter can recommend a good red wine.

have / She / chocolates / two / can

Answer

She can have two chocolates.

Present - negative

Subject + can not + verb + noun / noun phrase

Subject + can't + verb + noun / noun phrase

Practice

can / speak / I / not / German.

I can not speak German.

not / reserve / You / can / to / a table

Answer

You can not reserve a table.

have / white wine / I / can't

Answer

I can't have white wine.

pay / can't / You / cash / with

Answer

You can't pay with cash.

Past tense - positive

Explain

Subject + could + verb + noun / noun phrase

Past

Now

Future

I could speak Italian.

It is in the past so means that you now can not speak Italian.

Now

Past

I can't speak Italian.

Future

I could speak Italian.

I could speak Italian but now I can't.

Now

Past

I can speak Italian.

Future

I could speak Italian.

I could speak Italian and now I can.

Why is number 3 wrong?

Answer

If you say you 'could' do something it means you 'can not' do it now. It is odd to say you 'could' do something if you still can.

Practice

Subject + could + verb + noun / noun phrase

could / play / I / golf.

I could play golf.

ChineseI / could / speak

Answer

I could speak Chinese

could / make / I / bread

Answer

I could make bread.

skateboard / My brother / could / ride / a

Answer

My brother could ride a skateboard.

Ago

Five years ago

Three years ago

One year ago

Twenty years ago

Ten years ago

Four years ago

Two years ago

Now

Unsure how long ago? 

Use 'about': about a year ago, about two years ago, about four years ago.

You can also say: a long time ago, ages ago for times far in the past. 

Examples

Five years ago I could speak French.

I could make pizza a year ago.

About three years ago my friend could use chopsticks but now she can't.

Past - negative

Now

Past

Future

I could not speak Italian.

I couldn't speak Italian.

Now

Past

I can speak Italian.

Future

I could not speak Italian.

I couldn't speak Italian.

I couldn't speak Italian but now I can.

Now

Past

I can't speak Italian.

Future

I couldn't speak Italian.

I couldn't speak Italian and now I can't.

Why is number 3 wrong?

Answer

If you say you 'could not' do something it means you 'can' do it now. It is odd to say you 'could not' do something if you still can not.

Practice

Subject + could not + verb + noun / noun phrase

could not / speak / I / Spanish.

I could not speak Spanish.

I could not speak Spanish but now I can.

cashI / couldn't / with / pay

Answer

I couldn't pay with cash.

cash / card / but / couldI / couldn't / pay / with / pay / with

Answer

I couldn't pay with cash but could pay with card.

couldn't / table / reserve / My wife / the

Answer

My wife couldn't reserve the table.

couldn't / for 7:30pm / table / reserve / My wife / the

Answer

My wife couldn't reserve the table for 7:30pm.

fish / have / couldn't / We / the

Answer

We couldn't have the fish.

fish / because / restaurant / ran-out / have / couldn't / We / the

Answer

We couldn't have the fish because the restaurant ran-out.

Questions (?)

Now

Past

Can you speak Italian?

Future

Could you speak Italian?

Present tense - Practice

Can + subject + verb + noun / noun phrase?

Can / speak / you / German?

Can you speak German?

recommend / you / Cana restaurant

Answer

Can you recommend a restaurant?

for / recommend / you / Can / dinnera restaurant

Answer

Can you recommend a restaurant for dinner?

this / take / I / Can

Answer

Can I take this?

Can / speak / Russian / your sister

Answer

Can your sister speak Russian?

Past tense - Practice

Could + subject + verb + noun / noun phrase?

you / Could / a seatrecommend

Answer

Can you recommend a seat?

on / reserve / you / Could / the train / a seat

Answer

Could you reserve a seat on the train?

you / Could / at / pay / the till

Answer

Could you pay at the till?

Can with future events

Past

Now

Future

I can go to the bank this week.

It means the subject has the ability to go to the bank this week.

Past

Now

Future

I can watch a film tonight.

It means the subject has the ability to watch a film tonight (they are not busy).

Past

Now

Future

I can not watch a film tonight.

I can't watch a film tonight.

It means the subject does not have the ability to watch a film tonight (they are busy or tired).

Conversations

A: Can you take Billy to school today?

B: Yes, I can. What time does it start?

A: He needs to be there to for 9:00.

B: Okay.

A: Do you want to watch a film tonight?

B: I can't tonight. I'm going out. How about tomorrow night?

A: Sounds good.

A: We need some rice for dinner tonight. Can you pick some up on the way home?

B: Yes, I can. How much do we need?

A: One bag is fine.

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