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definition of the word can

by the Wiktionnary

Rank of this word in the English language, from analyzing texts from Project Gutenberg.
then A should #81: can made did such

Old English cunnan (to know (how)).


Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle
couth (obsolete except in adjective use)

Present participle

- (third-person singular simple present can, present participle -, simple past could, past participle couth (obsolete except in adjective use))

  1. (obsolete, transitive) To know.
  2. (modal auxiliary verb, defective) To know how to; to be able to.
    She can speak English, French, and German.
    I can play football.
    Can you remember your fifth birthday?
  3. (modal auxiliary verb, defective, informal) May; to be permitted or enabled to.
    You can go outside and play when you're finished with your homework.
    Can I use your pen?

For missing tenses, substitute inflected forms of be able to, as:

The word could also suffices in many tenses. "I would be able to go" is equivalent to "I could go", and "I was not able to go" can be rendered "I couldn't go". (Unless there is a clear indication otherwise, "could verb" means "would be able to verb", but "couldn't verb" means "was/were not able to verb". It is unclear why.)

The present tense negative can not is often contracted to cannot or can't.

The use of can in asking permission is often considered impolite or incorrect.

Definition from Wiktionary
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