By

Mubarak Abdessalami

Abdessalami Dedication There are a lot of people I would like to dedicate this humble work to especially those who can. I’d also like to dedicate it to those who can’t but they wish they could as well as to those who can read between the lines and never rush to judge things unknowingly. but have never been able to reach their goals and accomplish what they have always dreamt of for a reason or another.The Modal Verb « can » under the microscope . -1- .

not one meaning actually but various meanings. together. We are not here absolutely talking about “linguistic modality”. “Modality in Grammar and discourse” p. pitch. tone. is actually hard to find because it belongs to a diffident species. in natural language. For you. there might be some mood ambiguity that I need you not to let go without scrutiny. “must”. Generally. “Can” has a special status among modal verbs because it places itself in many utterances as chief decisive about the meaning. Consequently. “can” is known for its expressing. maybe these clues are not of major importance as you already know them. On this point particularly. ability. pan and intonation when pronounced. but we rarely take notice of them. “may” etc. ________________________________________________________________________________________ (1) Joan Bybee & Suzanne Fleischman. Its negative form is always “cannot” (standard) contracted into “can’t” for all persons and its past and conditional is “could”.The Modal Verb « can » under the microscope . Some messages are not really decipherable because of “can” until they are spoken out or backed up with supplementary expounding context. possibility.communication. it is always a matter of syntax and semantics. a container or a canister. Prelude In this paper. It is referred to as “modal” because it has a mood. When it comes to the semantic properties of “Can”. you’ll realize that there are some other functions. it is not always clear and detectable in all circumstances. that are actually within this modal verb’s area of competence. It doesn’t take “s” in the third person singular in the present. “mood refers to a formally grammaticalized category of the verb which has a modal function” (*) Like other modal verbs. We are rather and simply trying to distinguish the various semantic fundamentals of “can” within the sphere of spoken -but also of written. is what counts the most in our research. request and permission. there are lots of hidden or blurring meanings which indicate that the common “can”. here.Abdessalami  What can I do for you?  Can I help you? It’s already encouraging that “can” is used for offering help. “can” can overpass the other modals in authority over functional styles of speech. we all make use of. What I mean is the mystifying modal auxiliary verb “can”. however can’s controlling power over meaning in natural language certainly is. However. What I am talking about. but if you look closer and deeper. often with the valuable help of syllabic emphasis. we’ll try. “Grammatical mood” or “Categorial Grammars” even though we are not really far-off. “can” never takes “to” for the infinitive so there is no “to can”. No?! Not really. “Can” is able to serve a number of functions and this. such as “will”. is not the noun which refers to the cylindrical thing we also call a tin. in fact. it greatly depends on the way it is used and articulated. Funny. either: you cannot say “she cans” for instance. to discover what we miss about this amazing word and see where its influential dominance over interpersonal communication begins and where it fades away. 2 -2- .

We’ll deal with them one by one. Contemplate these sentences and try to find out the impact of “can” in each of them. 4. You have just eaten a banana.The Modal Verb « can » under the microscope . Inviting d. -3- . they use “can” in their daily interactive communication unpremeditatedly.3. 2.6.a . In each of the sentences on the left. 5. intonation.be it affirmative. However. Its impact is immense. 4. the modal verb “can” is a little special for its inconceivable ability to appear in different locations without disguise but with a different personality and function each time. 6. the same little three-letter-word “can” is used in a multitude of contexts to serve various goals. She can’t write with her left hand.d . Can you read this for me. please? You can have a day off tomorrow. You can’t park your can in the alley. . intend to explore here. In natural language.a . In English there are lots of modal verbs and they all serve different purposes. 5. As for native speakers. Request Task II 1. And that’s what we. Task I 1.Abdessalami Initiation Before I start. c.c Task II: 1. I have made them two sets of utterances to facilitate the task. Switch on the microscope Let’s first make our way into illustrating the idea. together. please? Can we rely on those friends of yours? The child can read and write. no?! a) Inability b) Prohibition c) Possibility d) Complaint e) Logical deduction f) Offer As you can see. Asking for permission. Therefore. 3. Asking for confirmation. You can’t be hungry.c .f . They can come to the party tonight. “can” .2. KEY Task I: 1.f . 3. Can you come to my party tomorrow? a Ability b. It has invaded different linguistic fields in natural language and has made itself noticeable. Can I use your mobile phone. tone and emphasis among others.5. e. I’d like to draw the readers’ attention that this paper is meant for non-native speakers of English in the first place.6.2. You can’t do this to me! We had an accord.4.b . .has a specific function to accomplish.e .d Now let’s mull over these functions and others closely. You can use my bike if you are late. negative or interrogative .4. f. the functions that “can” serve are not generally visible unless they are put under the styledetector microscope.3.5. the use of “can” depends greatly on lots of factors including.e. Now try to match the sentences with the labels on the right. 2. Giving permission. 6. let’s emphasize that once more. needed and useful. context.b.

meaning the potentiality that you will do something when you can do it. Oscar Wilde 02.” The “you” here is more general and it doesn’t designate one person specifically -who is “you” here. “You can’t touch your nose with your elbow”. e. (This implies that your inability to sneeze with your eyes open is because it is impossible and it is experimented. like when “a bike” becomes “the bike” and so on. This means I am unable to speak Chinese. ☺ She can speak Italian. “You are not able to touch your nose with your elbow because it is impossible and nobody else can”. However. we need to pay more attention because it also expresses impossibility or even prohibition. -4- . “I can’t ride a bike”.but everybody. 2. Not only does this sentence express inability but impossibility as well. especially if the massage is not reinforced with further explanations or particular tone. For example. the intrinsic value of the modal is first because when it comes to “can”. Here. the sentence will get different or extra meaning. for example. In some other situation.The Modal Verb « can » under the microscope . “You can’t sneeze with your eyes open”. it may express prohibition. 3. The officer saying this wants the person in question to abide by the law as everybody else does.) 4.g.Abdessalami 01. If any changes occur in the body of the sentence. I can hear you. Expressing Inability To express inability. “Can” normally means “be able to” . Clearly the diffident nature of “can” is only perceptible when it is used in very specific plain and clear situations. 1. ☺ Can you fly a plane? ☺ “I can resist everything except temptation”. “I can’t speak Chinese”. In this case. the speaker shows his or her inability to ride a bicycle. It says. at the airport. “can” is always in the negative form. a passenger wants to travel abroad but he doesn’t own a passport. The most remarkable thing about “can” is that it can leave room for diverse interpretations. That’s why the context and the way the statement is articulated make the difference. ☺ Don’t shout. ☺ The giraffe can clean its ears with its own tongue. “You can’t travel abroad without a passport. The meaning will obviously be shaky if not misinterpreted or misunderstood whenever one or both of context and intonation are absent. we are visibly dealing with disposition modality. Expressing Ability “Can” is commonly used to convey or describe the ability to do something. Maybe the message implies that the speaker is forced not to ride a bike by an authority be it a parent or a doctor or someone else. 5. Therefore. ☺ The ant can carry ten times its own weight. “know how to” or “be capable of”.

please? (more Polite) ☺ Please. “Can” is included here under intrinsic modality. Can you come along with your team? -5- . ☺ Can you come for dinner tonight? ☺ Can I invite you to my sister’s wedding ceremony? ☺ We are partying this afternoon. you can make mistakes. And this is the intricate amazing thing about root modality in general. ☺ Can you post this letter for me. ☺ She can pay us a visit unexpectedly. 04. ☺ You can fall down if you are not careful. sir? 05. ☺ You can use my pen. ☺ If you don’t concentrate. Granting or declining permission “Can” is most recommended when we want to allow someone to do something. Can you join us?" ☺ We’re organizing a contest next week. ☺ You can’t leave now. “can” is also used to make requests.The Modal Verb « can » under the microscope . ☺ You can bring your children to the show. ☺ The conference can be postponed.Abdessalami 03. Expressing Possibility “Can” expresses the possibility to do something or the potentiality that something may take place. please sir? ☺ Can I talk to the manager. Making Requests Like the modal auxiliary verb “will”. please? 07. please? ☺ Can I go out. please? (Polite) ☺ Could you possibly post this letter for me. please? ☺ Can you prepare some tea for the guests. 06. Inviting “Can” is also suggested when you want to invite someone. ☺ They can call you back in few days time. please? ☺ Can I close the window. This is almost an utterly exclusive act of “can”. ☺ You can call me any time. These utterances could abruptly express probability once “can” is replaced by “may”. can you hand me that folder over there? ☺ Can you close the window. please? ☺ Can you leave me alone for a moment. There are levels of politeness in making requests and “can” always plays the major role. they swap roles in most functions. ☺ Can I use your pen. please? ☺ Can I have a look at your photo album? ☺ Can we leave now. Asking for permission “Can” is used to ask for permission the same way as with “may” but not with any other modal verb.

You generally seek a confirmation of ability. I'm going somewhere that day. Most of these prohibitions are not expressed verbally but through signs. but you can’t throw your empty bottles in my balcony. 11. ☺ You cannot do this to me.The Modal Verb « can » under the microscope .” (as nobody does because it is illegal or forbidden by the law) ☺ “You can’t smoke here. ☺ I'm sorry but I can't. ☺ Can I help you? ☺ What can I do for you? ☺ Is there anything I can do for you? ☺ You can use my bike if you need it. 08. Expressing Prohibition Prohibition is commonly expressed by means of “mustn’t” because this modal verb is bossier and more suitable for this function particularly. can’t we? ☺ He can come tomorrow. possibility or else. -6- . however. Making Offers “Can” is the most suitable modal verb for making offers par excellence. Complaining “Can” is rarely noticed or considered as a vehicle of complaint expressions except for some specific situations like: ☺ I cannot be treated this way! ☺ This can’t happen to me. can’t he? ☺ Can he be right? ☺ Can she rely on him? 09. ☺ Can’t you see that I’m busy? ☺ I’m sorry to say this. one has to pay attention because there is quite a slight uniformity between using “can” for offer and for permission. “Can” is able to ask for confirmation in many question structures. ☺ They can use my desk if they like. I'm busy then. Such constructions may also be used in expressing impossibility. we say. “cannot” does the same when the allusion is clear: When something is against the norms or the law. though. like ‘NO SMOKING” etc 10. ☺ You can drive the truck. ☺ “You can’t have more than one ticket.Abdessalami ☺ We are having a party. can’t you? ☺ We can trust him. “ ( regulations say one ticket per person) ☺ You can’t have access to this facility without a written authorization. ☺ “You cannot park your car in the alley.” implies that nobody is allowed to do so. Asking for confirmation Tag questions with “can” are frequently used to make sure something is what you think it is. ☺ How can it always be my fault! ☺ They can’t prevent me from doing my duty. Nevertheless. Can you come and have fun? ☺ I'm afraid I can't.

feelings can be displayed and spoken through words. “must” is used for positive deductions whereas “can’t” is used for negation or for what can be termed “logical impossibility”.Abdessalami ☺ I can help you with your homework if you want. A. You can take my seat. She is still in bed. It must be the cat. He can’t be needy. most probably. They must be there by now. ☺ It can’t be true.” (*). B. She must speak French. apart from this philosophical stand. The matter of sincere feelings is beyond words.[ Cordelia . doesn’t it? Cordelia. “Can” is mostly used to express our judgements of events effectively. conclusion or logical necessity. ☺ You look tired. We use “can’t” to say that the conclusion from given premises is the most improbable. On the other hand “can’t” is used to make negative logical deductions. This is. No! It can’t be Nadia. He can’t be serious. William : King Lear . No. I can manage that alone! 12. 1 -] -7- . 13. The cat doesn’t like to hang around here.Act I. I love your Majesty According to my bond. couldn’t profess her love for her father like her sisters because she believes that there’s no bargaining in emotions.  She came from France. We use “can’t” particularly to make inferences like A. ☺ It cannot be correct. Is it Nadia who is making that deafening noise outside? B. Feelings “Unhappy that I am. no more nor less. He must be sick.The Modal Verb « can » under the microscope . ☺ Johnny can’t do that. in Shakespeare’s tragedy play: King Lear. ☺ He doesn’t know how to fix the car. he has been out of town for weeks now. Logical deduction When it comes to inference. it can’t be. ☺ That man has a luxurious sport car. She even styles that this way “… I am sure my love’s More ponderous than my tongue” (*) Still. We use “must” to make affirmative logical deductions. _________________________________________________________________ (*) Shakespeare. the only instance where “can’t” is the opposite of “must”. ☺ It’s all right thanks.  They left two hours ago. He must be rich  The boy is pale and he coughs all the time. sc. Look! The vase is broken. This is what crosses my mind when I wanted to talk about “can” expressing feelings. It looks a little hard to express true Love. The source of information is unreliable. ☺ He says he is travelling abroad by bike. like in  Look at his luxurious car. I cannot heave My heart into my mouth. He can’t be the mechanic.

☺ I can't believe it! ☺ How can this be?! ☺ This can't be happening! ☺ It can’t be true! No way! ☺ I can’t imagine your grandfather climbing up that high tree. among other modal verbs. ☺ Stop shivering! Anyone can feel your nervousness! -8- . and then you can type it and put it on my desk. ☺ I can apply for that job as many times as it requires. ☺ It is so chilly here that I can’t feel my feet.. b/ Showing impatience Showing impatience doesn’t escape “can”. impatience and determination to name only a few. We can hardly believe it's true. e/ Senses. 13. ☺ You can fix the gate after painting the fence. 13. 13. Giving instructions is also a “boss” job that the modal “can” is able to effectuate. “Can” is perhaps the most suitable modal auxiliary to be used with 'see' 'hear' 'feel' 'smell' and 'taste' ☺ Without my glasses I can’t see well. ☺ I cannot fail this time. c/ Showing Determination You can also use “can” to show that you are resolute and resolved about fixing and settling a goal. it can't be me. ☺ Yeah. Therefore. ☺ When water boils. 13. ☺ I can’t wait until I get my diploma. is an active component of our language when it is matter of expressing emotions.The Modal Verb « can » under the microscope . ☺ I can’t stop trying as long as I live. “can” is always there to assist you to show that openly. ☺ I can hardly wait until I meet her. ☺ You finish the report first. 13. You can use “can” to express your being impatient about something or about doing something. ☺ I can smell burning. you can pour some in the teapot. I can do it whatever it takes. a/ Disappointment or Surprise When you are disappointed or surprised. ☺ I can hear them coming. d/ Giving instructions. feelings or attitudes.Abdessalami “Can”. ☺ If somebody is to lose. ☺ I can't believe how much your daughter has grown! ☺ I can't believe it's been a year since we last met? ☺ She finally got married. surprise. You cannot find better word than “can” to display your disappointment.

.“I can’t stand the rain” (A song by Ann Peebles) . . .“We all know Nadia is nosy. . Suggesting “Can” amazingly shifts in function from asking for permission to suggesting by just replacing “I” with “we”. I can’t help but go and cram for it”. .“Dishonesty is one of the things I cannot abide” . So. Can’t bear: be unable to tolerate. but she can’t help it”.I cannot abide living in this town.” . unable to endure more.” (Sung by Elvis Presley. not be able to endure.I can't put up with the children’s noise anymore.The Modal Verb « can » under the microscope . dislike. . manage.“I can't afford a new car soon. I wish I could. ☺ Can we take a walk after the movie session? ☺ Can we start making plans right now? ☺ Can we go to the cinema tonight? 15. Can’t stand: be unable to tolerate.“She just can’t resist buying jewellery” . Idioms & phrasal verbs Can’t help: not be able to control or stop something.I can't put up with my roommate. Can’t stomach: dislike.“I can't bear the thought of doing the same task again” Can’t put up with: not able to tolerate.“I can’t help falling in love with you.“She can't stand people with no sense of humour”. Can’t afford: not to have money enough to do something.“I can’t bear eating the same meal daily” .“They can’t afford the money for the wedding party. Can’t resist: can’t fight back temptation or urge to do something. don’t like. UB40) .The one thing I cannot stomach is walking the dog.Abdessalami 14. Ingrid Michaelson.” . . . accept . .“She cannot stomach the sight of blood” . too.“She can’t bear living far from her parents” .“I have a test tomorrow.” .“The dish looks so delicious that I can’t resist tasting it” Can/can’t handle: be able/unable to manipulate.Johnny: “I wish you’d stop snoring?” Deborah: “I can't help it.” Can’t abide: not be able to tolerate. .I cannot abide nasty arrogant people.“My parents can't afford to pay for my studies. bear or deal with -9- .

It doesn’t seek to know if Detective Spooner can write a symphony or turn a canvas into a beautiful masterpiece. They don't feel anything.The Modal Verb « can » under the microscope . It is not innocent at all. we can frequently hear some more idiomatic expressions like “can't think straight”. they don't sleepSonny: I do.. Because of all this and more.. Detective Del Spooner: Human beings have dreams. it has demolished the presumption that a human being -any human being. .Abdessalami . In this regard. still. an imitation of life.can write a symphony or can turn a canvas into a beautiful masterpiece. detective Del Spooner call Sonny. I can handle it. One scene particularly in the movie gave “can” a particular power. It is true that robots can’t do any of those things. they need to rely greatly on the context and certain levels of tone effects. canvas into a beautiful masterpiece? Sonny: Can you ? (*) “Can” in sonny’s question suddenly turns magical. They don't eat. It is the interrogation scene where Detective Spooner (Will Smith) interrogates Sonny (the robot). conveying easily decipherable meanings. I can’t handle it any more. 2004. it has nothing to do with our talk maybe. Robot. . Yes. So in order for speakers to make themselves clear. but not you. I think most of you have seen the science fiction action movie “I. “just can't win”. the detective who is a human being can’t either. You are just a machine. Can a robot write a symphony? Can a robot turn a. _________________________________________________________________ (*) I. Moreover. Sonny’s “Can you?” unexpectedly makes the whole Spooner’s allegations mere fallacies. Robot” (2004) starring Will Smith. “can” may generate ambiguity and confusion or even an unanticipated meaning. By the way. directed by Alex Proyas. Detective Del Spooner: Robots don't feel fear.Leave this one to me. Even dogs have dreams. “can’t hear oneself breathe”. 115 mns 20th Century Fox studio American movie. I have even had dreams.I can’t handle being unemployed for a long time. On the contrary. “can do without” and so on and so forth.10 - . “canner”. “can't take eyes off someone or something”. Don’t worry. . but still there is a “can” in it.I’m tired.

19. Doubt OR confusion “Can’t” is generally used with “tell” to show it clear that the speaker is either not sure or he is confused or bewildered about an issue or an event. please?” ☺ “Could you please tell me where the museum is?” ☺ “Can you tell me how to get to the post office. ☺ I can’t tell if he is sincere about giving us a hand. please? ☺ What are you talking about? Can you be more specific. please? ☺ I wonder if you could say that in a different way. Can you clarify that. Asking for direction There are many ways to ask for direction and using “can” is one of them. Asking for clarification We have previously talked about “can” used to ask for confirmation. can you elaborate on it? ☺ I’m sorry. ☺ I can’t tell which is the most suitable for you. please? ☺ I don’t understand. ☺ She can’t tell if the boy is happy or not. ☺ I can’t argue with you on that . can you say that again. With “could” you are more polite? ☺ Can you repeat that. ☺ Can you put it differently. Can you say that again. ☺ I can’t tell if she will come. please? ☺ I didn’t get the last part. please? ☺ Could you repeat. please? ☺ I didn’t follow you. please? ☺ What do you mean by that? Can you be more explicit? ☺ Can you explain what you mean by brain gain? ☺ Can you give examples. please?” 18. 17. please?” ☺ “Excuse me! How can I get to the nearest bus stop. please? ☺ I didn’t get that. The only particular thing about this sort of style is that “can” is better changed into “could”. please?” ☺ “Can you give me directions to the nearest bakery. ☺ I can’t tell if she really loves me.The Modal Verb « can » under the microscope . In the same regard it can be used to ask for clarification or to ask for clarification for good understanding.Abdessalami 16. Agreeing ☺ I can't agree more. ☺ "Can you tell me the shortest way for getting to the airport?" ☺ “Excuse me sir! Can you show me the way to the petrol station. Agreeing and disagreeing with an opinion.11 - . “Can” could make it simple and more practical for one to agree or disagree with a point of view. Can you make yourself clear? ☺ I can’t understand the last part.

What does this mean to you? I can’t understand. I can play the guitar everywhere I go. 4. 5. Can you tell what “can” is used here to express. 2. can’t I? I can play the guitar. It is easily affected by any words added or omitted in a construction. This group of sentences keeps the basic focus “I can play the guitar”. Conditional Permission Possibility Confirmation. Ability . Rehearsing A. however. I am confused by what has happened. Does it express ability? . See if “can” here expresses the same thing: 1. 1. B. 1. Because this is unusual or strange. This is a little hard for me to understand what you are saying.12 - .It is possible that they accommodate you if they get to know you well or for other reasons. I can’t understand (it). 5. the few words added or changed here and there force can to bear a completely different function in each sentence. 4. 5. Understanding is a handicap for me. 3.) More than that. 3. It is difficult for me to understand anything. 3. I can play the guitar at the party. 4. ☺ I suppose this idea cannot be implemented. (I am slow. 2. “can” is highly sensitive to its surrounding context.The Modal Verb « can » under the microscope .Abdessalami Disagreeing ☺ I'm afraid I can't agree with this idea. Here is the list of functions “can” expresses in each of the above sentences. I can play the guitar at the party if they invite me to.They are able to accommodate you because they have plenty of vacant rooms. They can put you up. I can play the guitar. 2. Or does it express possibility? . I can’t understand no matter how hard you try to make me.

inability? b. 4. . Suppose John Doe chooses to add “now” to his statement. Does John Doe want to say that he is capable of speaking again (after being dumb. Suppose that “can”. Or does he say it is possible that he will declare something like when testifying in a court (spoken in a certain way this sentence may suggest a sort of threat or blackmail). Look at this one. Does it express … a. impressions and interpretations.John Doe: “I can speak. The meaning of the sentence is ultimately mere guesswork. explanation or else. Therefore. the meaning is completely lost in the mess of the reader’s moods.is easily graspable. Here is another statement. 2. is used in a separate statement. . How can we make sure we have really understood the message? Can we be sure if it is making allusion to ability. Can you infer what he wanted to say? . suddenly most of the suppositions above collapse at once. I've had enough. Most of the time it is not evident that the meaning of a discrete sentence with “can” in written communication . I am able to use my eyes to see (again) 2. People usually overlook those little differences to assume that it means what they want it to mean and this premeditated attitude towards vague messages creates a lot of misunderstanding of course. E. I can't put up with this situation any further”. We always need to be informed about the global context in which it is used. much prudence is dearly needed here for sometimes one structure can have more than one functional meaning particularly in discrete sentences like this one. Or does the statement imply that John Doe has finally got the permission to speak after being forbidden to do so for a certain time? So here. intonation. impossibility? c. without assistance from accentuation.” Here. 3. Each one of us will understand it the way it pleases and suits him better. prohibition? D. complaint? OR d. The question persists. “Well.The Modal Verb « can » under the microscope . John Doe didn’t say anything else.especially .Oh! I can see now! This sentence can have two distinct meanings 1. all these readings are acceptable and valid as far as there are no further precisions or practical information added to dissipate the ambiguity.13 - . 1.Abdessalami C. aphasic or speech-impaired for a long time or after a chirurgical operation for instance). I understand now.

Step aside son. showing contempt. All of the above. Here. please? What more can I say? There is nothing I can do I can’t help being worried by the way she behaves. Here is an exercise which seems difficult and has to be done. I encourage you to do it. 6. It is still very early for that now. Can you point me to the nearest store?" Excuse me. I can see that you have reached the end. Can you give me simple directions to the police station? I can see what you mean. yet. go on! 5. I am positive he can handle this type of problems. don’t give up! . I’d prefer to leave you with this medley of statements to examine and try to see if we have exhaustively studied this modal verb “can”. So. expressing impossibility. I can truly make a difference. Daddy can handle it. For my friends.The Modal Verb « can » under the microscope . “can”. I wish I could suggest something. There is much work to do to be able to unveil all the secrets of this powerful mysterious diffident modal. Interviews can be his worst nightmare. expressing fear. You are able to do it. So please. suggesting. I have the same problem myself. G. I can barely handle this any more. You know how to do it 3.” Now! Can we shout victory we have at last tamed this wayward modal auxiliary verb? I guess not. Before I close. It is possible that you can do it if we have enough time for that. complaint. lack of certitude and so on. inability. giving instructions. I can vouch for that.Abdessalami possibility. prohibition. showing determination or else? The answer is: “We simply can’t. I don't think they can repair that car. request.                      Can you spare me a moment of your precious time. You have permission. I can't be so sure about that. F. I’ll let you deepen and intensify the research to check how far this modal verb can go with its influence on our speech. What am I saying when I tell you… “You can do it” 1. 4. Excuse me. asking for and giving permission. I just can’t make it. This is tough for you. but I can't I'm afraid I can't really help you. you’ll encounter other functions that “Can” would never miss for anything in the world of interpersonal communication. like declining to give an advice.14 - . impossibility. You are allowed to do it. 2. I can’t say either way for sure. She can't possibly make the pizza.

Judy Garland */ “Everyone can be great. all the same. This. The most surprising thing about “can”. Marilyn Monroe */ “The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend. is the incredible fact that it is the most frequently used word in our daily discourse. and pride is taking less than you need. */ “If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing. but still I can do something. but I cannot live without love”. You will be surprised. I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” Kahlil Gibran */ “If you can dream it. But I can't accept not trying”. by itself.The Modal Verb « can » under the microscope . but still I am one. is an incontestable solid proof that “can” is not to be underestimated as it has the power to render communication stiff without it. It is ubiquitous and we must admit it.” Ralph Waldo Emerson .15 - .” Helen Keller */ “Generosity is giving more than you can. you're right”. Michael Jordan */ “It is one of the beautiful compensations of life.Abdessalami Conclusion Undoubtedly our microscope has exerted a great effort to zoom and to bring close enough the maximum of details in the body of linguistic constructions wherein the multifunctional modal verb “can” is the pivot. to know that most of the examples provided in this paper are either song titles or verses in songs. maybe.” Martin Luther King. */ “I am only one. that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself. Walt Disney */ “I don't mind living in a man's world as long as I can be a woman in it”. because everyone can serve.” Henry David Thoreau */ “I can live without money.” John Wesley */ “I can accept failure. I can prove it once more through this assortment of quotes. everyone fails at something. save all you can. Henry Ford */ “Make all you can. and because I cannot do everything. give all you can. you can do it”. I cannot do everything. Jr.

Cambridge Univ. “can. 2007 Bybee.” ______________________________________ Bibliography 1. J. F. Modality in Grammar and Discourse. Linguistic Modality as expressions of social power Palmer.(New Revised Edition) Signet Classic 1987. 5.Abdessalami I hope the employed microscope lenses were diaphanous and sharp enough to magnify and disclose some of the secret marvels of this tiny little three-letter-word.The Modal Verb « can » under the microscope .P Quote Unquote A handbook of famous quotations Lotus Press. Mood and Modality. 7. 3. Robot. L. Singh.16 - . Andrew Salter. I. 1986 (2nd edition 2001). John Benjamins publishing company. 6. 2.wikiquote. Cognitive English Grammar.org/wiki/I. S. Conditioned Reflex Therapy p:58 Günter Radden and René Dirven. Gärdenfors._Robot_(film)#Dialogue] ____________________________________________________ .. John Benjamins. [http://en. Winter & P. M. Shakespeare.. 4. Press. William: King Lear . R. 8. New Delhi 2006 Wikiquote.

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