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    #1

    Smile Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    1. TO BE ABLE TO make people laugh, you need to have a special talent.

    2. He HAS BEEN ABLE TO appeal to both black and white audiences.



    Best regards

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    #2

    Re: Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    Quote Originally Posted by gx90t View Post
    Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    1. TO BE ABLE TO make people laugh, you need to have a special talent.

    2. He HAS BEEN ABLE TO appeal to both black and white audiences.

    Best regards

    "can" isn't really a proper verb. It's a "modal auxiliar" and as such has no infinitive form, which is what is called for in your first example, nor does it have a participial form, which is what is called for in the second. You might think of "can" as a special shortcut for the present tense of "be able to": "I am able to do it = I can do it". But it won't work, for example, in the future tenses because these call for infinitive forms. "I will be able to do it" or "I am going to be able to do it" have no corresponding "can" constructions, though the use of "can" can have a future sense: "I can do it tomorrow".

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    #3

    Re: Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    Quote Originally Posted by gx90t View Post
    Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    1. TO BE ABLE TO make people laugh, you need to have a special talent. In this sentence you can't use "Can" because starting a sentence with 'Can make people laugh,' is just not correct English grammar.

    2. He HAS BEEN ABLE TO appeal to both black and white audiences. You can use "can" in this sentence.

    Best regards
    2006


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    #4

    Re: Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    Unfortunately, the extremely common and useful English verb "can" exists only in the simple present. The closest equivalent in other tenses is "be able."

    He was able to escape.
    He can escape.
    He will be able to escape.

    I don't think your sentences even need the concept of ability. You could
    say:

    To make people laugh, you need a special talent.
    He appeals to both black and white audiences.

    or, if you must:
    He has managed to appeal to both black and white audiences.

    In English, shorter is better. Do my versions change the meaning?

    I hope you'll be able to use my input.
    edward

    Quote Originally Posted by gx90t View Post
    Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    1. TO BE ABLE TO make people laugh, you need to have a special talent.

    2. He HAS BEEN ABLE TO appeal to both black and white audiences.

    Unfortunately, the extremely common and useful English verb "can" exists only in the simple present. The closest equivalent in other tenses is "be able."

    He was able to escape.
    He can escape.
    He will be able to escape.

    I don't think your sentences even need the concept of ability. You could
    say:

    To make people laugh, you need a special talent.
    He appeals to both black and white audiences.

    or, if you must:
    He has managed to appeal to both black and white audiences.

    In English, shorter is better. Do my versions change the meaning?

    I hope you'll be able to use my input.
    edward



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    #5

    Re: Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    Why is it impossible to use CAN in this sentence?


    2. He HAS BEEN ABLE TO appeal to both black and white audiences.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    You can use "can" in this sentence.
    But not without changing the meaning, right, 2006?


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    #6

    Re: Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    Quote Originally Posted by baqarah131 View Post
    Unfortunately, the extremely common and useful English verb "can" exists only in the simple present.
    'can' doesn't have any tense, Edward. It's like all the other modal verbs in modern day English, ie. they are tenseless. 'can' can operate in all time situations, past, present and future.


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    #7

    Re: Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    Horse feathers! It's easy to use can in present, but can you use it in the past?

    I say neigh.
    edward

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    'can' doesn't have any tense, Edward. It's like all the other modal verbs in modern day English, ie. they are tenseless. 'can' can operate in all time situations, past, present and future.


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    #8

    Re: Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    Quote Originally Posted by baqarah131 View Post
    Horse feathers! It's easy to use can in present, but can you use it in the past?

    I say neigh.
    edward
    Yup, I cannnnnnnnn. As close as I can come to a 'can neigh'.

    No no no no no. He can't have died!!

    A: There's no way. He can't have been at the party.

    B: Oh, he sure can have been.


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    #9

    Re: Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    I enjoy a good argument and was feeling quite smug until a few minutes ago.

    He can't have died. I don't think "can" is past there. It is impossible that he has died.
    It's your B that troubles me--unless the meaning is "It is my current belief that it's impossible he was at the party."
    Even I can't swallow that.
    I reject your C: It's just not idiomatic English.

    Dunno. I think using "can" outside the present requires some nifty verbal gymnastics, but your B is hard to dismiss.

    regards & thanks for this
    edward

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    Yup, I cannnnnnnnn. As close as I can come to a 'can neigh'.

    No no no no no. He can't have died!!

    A: There's no way. He can't have been at the party.

    B: Oh, he sure can have been.

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    #10

    Re: Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    Quote Originally Posted by baqarah131 View Post
    I enjoy a good argument and was feeling quite smug until a few minutes ago.

    He can't have died. I don't think "can" is past there. It is impossible that he has died.
    It's your B that troubles me--unless the meaning is "It is my current belief that it's impossible he was at the party."
    Even I can't swallow that.
    I reject your C: It's just not idiomatic English.

    Dunno. I think using "can" outside the present requires some nifty verbal gymnastics, but your B is hard to dismiss.
    I don't think this is an example of "can" used with a past meaning because:

    Oh, he sure can have been = Oh, it certainly *is* possible that he has been.

    In riverkid's example, "can" speaks of the present possibility that a past action has ocurred. Or, if you don't agree, show me a sentence in which "can" = "it *was* possible" or "it *has been* possible".

    "can" of course can be used with a future meaning:
    I can pay you tomorrow = (more or less) I will be able to pay you tomorrow

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