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  1. #1
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    Default Do you speak English? VS Can you speak English?

    Hi Everybody,

    I really want to know the difference between "Do you speak English?" and "Can you speak English?" are they have same meaning? Thanks.

    W

  2. #2
    areev's Avatar
    areev is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Do you speak English? VS Can you speak English?

    Quote Originally Posted by Williamyh View Post
    Hi Everybody,

    I really want to know the difference between "Do you speak English?" and "Can you speak English?" are they have same meaning? Thanks.

    W

    I don't think so.

    Do you speak English?
    it means the asker wants to know whether you speak English in your daily activity.
    (native speaker)

    Can you speak English?
    it means the asker wants to know whether you can speak English.

    Please, correct me if I'm wrong

    Cheers

  3. #3
    2006 is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Do you speak English? VS Can you speak English?

    Quote Originally Posted by Williamyh View Post
    Hi Everybody,

    I really want to know the difference between "Do you speak English?" and "Can you speak English?" Do they have same meaning? Thanks.
    Without any special context, they mean the same. One doesn't speak English if one can't speak English.

  4. #4
    Offroad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you speak English? VS Can you speak English?

    I'd prefer 'Do you...?' instead of 'Can you...?'. It just sounds more polite.

    [not a teacher]

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    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Do you speak English? VS Can you speak English?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    Without any special context, they mean the same. One doesn't speak English if one can't speak English.
    Yes, but doesn't do you suggest a high level of knowledge?

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    2006 is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Do you speak English? VS Can you speak English?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Yes, but doesn't do you suggest a high level of knowledge?
    I'm not convinced that do you suggests a high(er) level.
    I suppose one could argue that "can" more clearly suggests ability, while "do" indicates the act of speaking, whatever the level may be. But again I would think that one does if one can, at whatever level and frequency.

    The opinions of others are welcome.
    Last edited by 2006; 08-Jul-2010 at 06:55.

  7. #7
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you speak English? VS Can you speak English?

    What's the context?

    Let's suppose A and B both speak fluent English and a bit of Spanish, and each knows this. B is not as proficient.

    A: Tengo un motocicleta azul.
    B: Can you speak English?

    No, "Do you speak English?" does not mean the same.

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    2006 is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Do you speak English? VS Can you speak English?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    What's the context?

    Let's suppose A and B both speak fluent English and a bit of Spanish, and each knows this. B is not as proficient.

    A: Tengo un motocicleta azul.
    B: Can you speak English?

    No, "Do you speak English?" does not mean the same. That is correct. But what B said is not a question; it is a request. B knows that A can speak English.

    So the above conversation does not address the question of whether the two questions have the same meaning.
    2006

  9. #9
    euncu's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you speak English? VS Can you speak English?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    What's the context?

    Let's suppose A and B both speak fluent English and a bit of Spanish, and each knows this. B is not as proficient.

    A: Tengo un motocicleta azul.
    B: Can you speak English?

    No, "Do you speak English?" does not mean the same.
    Maybe, B would have been more polite if he/she had asked it with "would".

    Would you speak English, please? You well know that I'm not that good at Spanish.

  10. #10
    bertietheblue is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Do you speak English? VS Can you speak English?

    Even as questions, they don't always have the same meaning. For example, my Japanese wife gets asked, "Do you speak to your children in English or Japanese?" but not "Can you ...?"

    But in the context in which the question is most likely to be asked - being in a country where English isn't the language spoken - I don't see much difference. I'm lost on the streets of, say, Cairo, I approach someone and I ask:

    'Do you speak English?'

    or

    'Can you speak English?'

    Is there a difference? Hmm. Beats me if there is.

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