can and could

Unit 25. can and could
He can play the piano.

Unit 25. can and could

can + infinitive (can do / can play / can come etc.):

positive and negative

I/ we/ you/ they
he/ she/ it

bracket to table

can`t (cannot)




reversed bracket to table

I/ we/ you/ they
he/ she/ it


I can do something. = I know how to do it or it is possible for me to do it:
- I can play the piano. My brother can play the piano too.
- Ann can speak Italian but she can`t speak Spanish.
- " Can you swim?" "Yes, but not very well."
- " Can you change twenty pounds?" "I`m sorry I can`t."
- Bill and Jenny can`t come to the party next week.

In the past ( yesterday / last week etc.):

can (do)
can`t (do)

could (do)
couldn`t (do)

- When I was young, I could run very fast.
- Before she came to Britain, she couldn`t speak English. Now she can speak English very well.
- I was tired last night but I couldn`t sleep.
- Bill and Jenny couldn`t come to the party last week.

We use Can you ... ? or Could you ... ? when we ask people to do things:
- " Can ( or Could) you open the door, please?" "Yes, sure."
- Can ( or Could) you tell me the time, please?

We use Can I ... ? when we ask if it is okay to do something:
- "Tom, can I take your umbrella?" "Yes, of course."
- ( on the phone) Hello. Can I speak to Gary, please?

We use Can I have ... ? to ask for something:
- ( in a shop) Can I have these postcards, please?