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    #1

    can/may

    Peter ___ come with us tonight, but he isn't very sure yet.
    (A) must (B) may (C) can (D) will
    The answer is option B. Is option C also acceptable?

  1. Harry Smith's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: can/may

    Quote Originally Posted by sitifan View Post
    Peter ___ come with us tonight, but he isn't very sure yet.
    (A) must (B) may (C) can (D) will
    The answer is option B. Is option C also acceptable?
    Yes, but without the second part of the sentence.

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    #3

    Re: can/may

    Quote Originally Posted by sitifan View Post
    Peter ___ come with us tonight, but he isn't very sure yet.
    (A) must (B) may (C) can (D) will
    The answer is option B. Is option C also acceptable?
    No, it isn't.
    "may" directly expresses possibility, which is what the sentence is about. "can" expresses ability but does not carry any direct expression of possibility.

  2. Harry Smith's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: can/may

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    No, it isn't.
    "may" directly expresses possibility, which is what the sentence is about. "can" expresses ability but does not carry any direct expression of possibility.
    I agree to what you say. But do you think it is unaccepable to say " He can come with us...."?

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    #5

    Re: can/may

    It's nearly seven o'clock. Jack ___ be here any moment.
    (A) must (B) need (C) should (D) can
    The answer is option C. How about option D? Is it also correct?
    Last edited by sitifan; 14-Dec-2008 at 11:38.

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    #6

    Re: can/may

    No it isn't.

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    #7

    Re: can/may

    Mr. Reed is in poor health. He can be ill at any time.
    Is the red sentence acceptable?

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    #8

    Re: can/may

    'Could' is preferable to 'can' which indicates ability.

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    #9

    Re: can/may

    Quote Originally Posted by harry smith View Post
    i agree to what you say. But do you think it is unaccepable to say " he can come with us...."?
    in sitifan's original post "can" is not acceptable but, as you said, without the second part "can" would be acceptable.
    2006

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    #10

    Re: can/may

    We can use can in affirmative sentences when we talk about a more general possibility of something happening rather than the possibility of something happening in a particular
    situation:
    ? The temperature can sometimes reach 35C in July.
    ? Mountain daisies can be yellow or red.
    ? It may/might/could rain later, {not It can...)
    We prefer may rather than can in more formal contexts:
    ? Exceeding the stated dose may cause drowsiness, (from a medicine container)
    Cambridge-English Advanced Grammar in Use

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