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  1. #11
    2006 is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    Why is it impossible to use CAN in this sentence?


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



    But not without changing the meaning, right, 2006?
    Yes, the meaning changes because the time changes, and maybe he is no longer able to appeal to...'.
    I took the question to be one of grammar.

  2. #12
    2006 is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    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.
    I would use "could" in the previous 3 sentences. (could, verbal auxillary, past of can)

  3. #13
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    Here in the dialect of America's deep south we have a very useful double modal that covers that exact situation very neatly: used to could.

    When I first heard people say something like, "I used to could ride a motorcycle before I hurt my back," I thought they were ignorant. Then I thought about how exact and economical this phrase is and wondered why the rest of the English-speaking world didn't pick up on it.

  4. #14
    2006 is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    Quote Originally Posted by mykwyner View Post
    Here in the dialect of America's deep south we have a very useful double modal that covers that exact situation very neatly: used to could.

    When I first heard people say something like, "I used to could ride a motorcycle before I hurt my back," I thought they were ignorant. Then I thought about how exact and economical this phrase is and wondered why the rest of the English-speaking world didn't pick up on it.
    I don't think the meaning of "used to could" is exact, and I think one has to choose between "used to" and "could".
    I am guessing that "used to could" means 'could', in which case adding "used to" would serve no purpose.

    'I could ride a motor cycle before I hurt my back.' (but I can't ride one now)
    "I used to ride a motorcycle before I hurt my back. (maybe I still can but I don't ride anymore)

  5. #15
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default 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.

    No, 'can' definitely isn't past, Edward, as modals have no tense. The situation is past and 'can' merely carries modal meaning into the sentence. The pastness of the situation is covered by "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.

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

    B: Oh, he sure can have been.


    I reject your C: It's just not idiomatic English.

    Did I do a C?

    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
    It's not overly common in comparison to other modal uses, Edward because it's a statement of strong disbelief, and often 'could' is used to state the same meaning. But note that to state this same meaning, the purported past tense 'could' still needs a 'have + PP'. If 'could' really was a past tense, it should be able to handle this all by its lonesome.

    'can & could' are the most confusing of the modals because they share identical meanings.

    Try to make a sentence using the other modal pairs, for example, may/might.

    Make a sentence, just one sentence, that uses 'might' as the past tense of 'may'.

  6. #16
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    I don't think the meaning of "used to could" is exact, and I think one has to choose between "used to" and "could".
    I am guessing that "used to could" means 'could', in which case adding "used to" would serve no purpose.
    You can't possibly know how exact the meaning is because this is not part of your dialect of English, 2006. It serves the purpose of those who speak that particular dialect.

    We have at east one of our own set of double modals that is in common use;

    You shouldn't oughta do that/shouldn't oughta've done that.

  7. #17
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    Quote Originally Posted by louhevly View Post
    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.

    That's an interesting thought, Lou. It is "Lou", isn't it? What would a switch to 'could' do to the meaning you suggest.

    Oh, he sure could have been there = Oh, it certainly {___??___} possible that ...


    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".

    Let's take this one step at a time, Lou.
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  8. #18
    2006 is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    You can't possibly know how exact the meaning is because this is not part of your dialect of English, 2006. It serves the purpose of those who speak that particular dialect.

    We have at east one of our own set of double modals that is in common use;

    You shouldn't oughta do that/shouldn't oughta've done that.
    Of course "oughta" is quite useless there and one should just say 'You (shouldn't do)(shouldn't've done) that.'
    Or are you suggesting that the meanings would change? I assume not.
    2006

  9. #19
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    Of course "oughta" is quite useless there and one should just say 'You (shouldn't do)(shouldn't've done) that.'
    Or are you suggesting that the meanings would change? I assume not.

    2006
    There are many ways to say things that have the same meanings or intent, 2006, but language is full of nuance and we shift words around to create these different nuances.

  10. #20
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    Default Re: Why is it impossible to use CAN in these sentences?

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    There are many ways to say things that have the same meanings or intent, 2006, but language is full of nuance and we shift words around to create these different nuances.
    I think the only nuance is letting people know that one speaks bad English, specifically using useless words in unconventional combinations.
    That's all I will have to say about this.

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