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English Grammar Reference: Can

Can is a modal verb and so always has the same form:

I can
You can

We can
You can


He can
She can
It can

They can


After can we use the base form of the verb.


I can swim
She can speak Spanish.

The negative form of can is can't.

We use can to talk about ability and permission.

  • Ability
They can drive.
She can't use a computer.
  • Permission
He can't go to the party.
They can park there.

As with all modal verbs, to make a question with can we invert can and the subject:

You can swim. (affirmation)
Can you swim? (question)

He can speak German. (affirmation)
Can he speak German? (question)