Results 1 to 5 of 5
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Ukraine
      • Current Location:
      • Ukraine

    • Join Date: Dec 2011
    • Posts: 120
    #1

    may/can

    Hi there,
    The question deals with the use of 'can' and 'may' expressing supposition.
    My grammar book advises against using 'can' in the sentence:
    (1) He can know the answer.
    It suggests "He may know the answer" as the only option.
    At the same time it states that 'can' also expresses supposition, though stronger than 'may': "I think he can be there already." shows more confidence than "He may be there already" (he may be there or not, there's a 50/50 chance of his being there).
    So can we use 'can' in the sentence above or not and what will the difference be then? Is it true that 'can' is less doubtful when meaning supposition? Could you please make the whole situation clearer for me?
    Thank you very much in advance!

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 24,983
    #2

    Re: may/can

    I would not use "can" there. But I would consider "may" or "might".

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 41,843
    #3

    Re: may/can

    Remember that "can" means "is able to". It's about ability, not possibility.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Ukraine
      • Current Location:
      • Ukraine

    • Join Date: Dec 2011
    • Posts: 120
    #4

    Re: may/can

    But why would you not use it? If one is almost sure that the man knows the answer well and is able to give it to the question, will it be incorrect to use 'can'?

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 41,843
    #5

    Re: may/can

    That's not the same thing. You could say "He can give the answer to the question". It doesn't work with "to know". We either know something or we don't. It's not to do with ability.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •