Community Web Version Now Available
Luan da Costa Silva
Know how to VS can / can't I was studying how to use can and can't and I found out that they can also be used to talk about ability, basically know to do something. I kinda feel uncorfartable when using "can/can't" to talk about abilities bacause it can have more than one interpretation. Reason why I feel uncomfortable. Ex: 1 - They can't play soccer - meaning they don't have the ability to play soccer. 2 - They can't play soccer - meaning they don't have permission to play soccer, let's say because they are grounded or they have some sort of physical disability. So which one is more used and which one is more natural "know how to" or can/can't?
Oct 17, 2016 7:57 PM
Answers · 7
I would say that we use 'can' and 'can't' more about ability than about permission. "David Luiz cannot defend for toffee," does not mean that he is not allowed to defend for or by some sweets. It means he is useless at defending. (The phrase 'cannot do [something} for toffee means that somebody absolutely cannot do something.' If you are confused about the dual usage, then my best suggestion would be to stick to 'can,' when you are talking about ability and to use the verb "to allow," when you are talking about permission. "David Luiz cannot defend well." "The goalkeeper is not allowed to use his hands outside of the penalty area."
October 17, 2016
I wouldn't feel uncomfortable using either of those sentences. It is quite acceptable to say someone can or can't do something. Whether, that is because they are not allowed to or do not have the ability. You could also use "know how to" , "not allowed to" or "are not permitted to", if you don't want to cause any confusion.
October 17, 2016
Luan da Costa Silva
Language Skills
English, German, Portuguese
Learning Language