It is very useful to think of the function which a modal verb such as ‘can’ provides. Modal verbs can lend a range of meanings to the verbs that they accompany. The function of the modal changes depending on the context in which it is used.
Can – Modal Auxiliary Verb (Function & Use)
Study the examples provided below:
- I can swim.
- Babies can’t talk.
- Can I go smoke in here?
- You can drive when you are 18 years old in Malta.
- Anything can happen.
- I can’t come tomorrow.
- Can I speak to Jim, please?
- Can you show me the way?
Choices and Options
- You can either smoke in the garden or in the smoking room.
- When you’re 18, you can choose between studying and working.
Offers of Help
- Can I help you?
- Can I take your bags?