Unit 17: can/could (ability, permission)


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Can is used to express ability:

I can play the guitar
Joan can swim very well
Ivan hasn’t got a car because he can’t drive
Can you cook?

We also use can for permission (giving and asking for)

Can I sit here? Yes, you can
It’s OK, you can go home now

When asking for things, it’s more polite to use could:

Could you open the window?
Could you give me your name, please?

Could is also the past of can. We use it to talk about things we were
able to do before:

I could skate very well when I was young
Jane could walk before she was one year old

When talking about ability, we can also use be able to. Can is a modal verb, and has no

future form.

Next year, I will be able to buy my first apartment

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