can


can
can noun.
Can is the word generally used in BrE for the container when the contents are liquid (a can of beer / a can of soup). When the contents are solid, tin is more usual (a tin of beans / a tin of peaches) but can is used for this too in AmE.
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can verb.
The verb can is classed among the modal verbs, and has a wide range of uses, expressing (1) possibility, (2) ability, (3) permission (where it overlaps with may).
Examples:
(1) possibility
Anyone can make a mistake / Manned spacecraft can now link up with other spacecraft in outer space / He can be very trying.
(2) ability
His four-year-old son can already ride a bicycle / Murray could read more than forty languages.
(3) permission
No one can play the organ without the consent of the vicar / Can I speak to your supervisor, please? In more formal or polite contexts, may is preferable and more usual, e.g. May I have another sandwich, please?. However, in the past tense, could has largely replaced might, e.g. At that time only rectors could [= were entitled to] receive tithes. In some cases, a distinction between can and may needs to be preserved, e.g. I'll drop in tomorrow, if I can [= if I am able, if I have the time, etc.] and I'll drop in tomorrow, if I may [= if you will permit me, if that is convenient for you, etc.].

Modern English usage. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Can — Can, v. t. & i. Note: [The transitive use is obsolete.] [imp. {Could}.] [OE. cunnen, cannen (1st sing. pres. I can), to know, know how, be able, AS. cunnan, 1st sing. pres. ic cann or can, pl. cunnon, 1st sing. imp. c[=u][eth]e (for cun[eth]e); p …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • CAN — bezeichnet: einen meist männlichen Vornamen, siehe Can (Vorname) den alternativen Titel des deutschen Fernsehfilms „Wut“ von Züli Aladag, siehe Wut (Fernsehfilm) eine deutsche Rockband, siehe Can (Band) im Graffiti die Sprühdose (englisch für:… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • CaN — bezeichnet: den männlichen Vornamen türkischen Ursprungs, siehe Can (Vorname) den alternativen Titel des deutschen Fernsehfilms Wut von Züli Aladag, siehe Wut (Fernsehfilm) die deutsche Rockband, siehe Can (Band) im Graffiti die Sprühdose… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Can — bezeichnet: den männlichen Vornamen türkischen Ursprungs, siehe Can (Vorname) den alternativen Titel des deutschen Fernsehfilms Wut von Züli Aladag, siehe Wut (Fernsehfilm) die deutsche Rockband, siehe Can (Band) im Graffiti die Sprühdose… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Can. — bezeichnet: den männlichen Vornamen türkischen Ursprungs, siehe Can (Vorname) den alternativen Titel des deutschen Fernsehfilms Wut von Züli Aladag, siehe Wut (Fernsehfilm) die deutsche Rockband, siehe Can (Band) im Graffiti die Sprühdose… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Can-Am — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Can Am es una empresa canadiense fabricante de motocicletas, subsidiaria de Bombardier Recreational Products, una empresa multinacional también de origen canadiense. Origen y desarrollo La empresa se originó en 1973 …   Wikipedia Español

  • can — can1 [kan; , kən] v.aux. pt.could [ME < OE, 1st & 3d pers. sing., pres. indic., of cunnan, know, have power to, be able; common Gmc < IE base * gen , *gno > L gnoscere, KNOW; orig. meaning “to be able mentally or spiritually,” as… …   English World dictionary

  • can — Ⅰ. can [1] ► MODAL VERB (3rd sing. present can; past could) 1) be able to. 2) used to express doubt or surprise: he can t have finished. 3) used to indicate that something is typically the case: he could be very moody. 4) be permit …   English terms dictionary

  • Can — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. {{{image}}}   Sigles d une seule lettre   Sigles de deux lettres > Sigles de trois lettres …   Wikipédia en Français

  • can — vb Can, may are often confused in use. In its commonest sense can expresses ability, whether physical or mental {he can climb this pole} {he is only four, but he can read} {he will do it if he possibly can} {when Duty whispers low, thou must, the …   New Dictionary of Synonyms


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