can is one of the 1000 most common headwords.
call - can - car

Pronunciation change

Verb change




  1. (modal) If someone can do something, they are able to do it.
    Most birds can fly.
    Can you speak English?
    I can't see it. It's too small.
    "Can you come?" "Yes, I think I can."
    This is a service that anyone can easily afford.
  2. (modal) If someone can do something, they are allowed to do it.
    You can't smoke here.
    Can I go now?
  3. (modal) You use can to ask somebody to do something (if you know the person well).
    Can you open the door for me, please?
    Can I have the salt, please?
  4. (modal) If something can happen, it is possible.
    It's so small that it can't be seen.
    There can't be any difference.
    Can the plan work?
    That can't be right.
    Imagine how bad it can get.
  5. (modal) If someone tells you something can't happen, they think it's not a good idea.
    You just can't keep smoking.
    You can't think things are going to get better.
  6. (modal) If something can happen, it happens sometimes.
    I can get really busy here on weekends.
    Her classes can be really interesting or really boring.

Related words change

Verb change

Plain form

Third-person singular

Past tense

Past participle

Present participle

  1. (transitive) If someone cans something, they put in a can or jar to keep for a long time.
    We canned the peas for the winter.
  2. (transitive) If someone cans something, they stop working on it.
    The idea was canned.
  3. (transitive) If someone gets canned they have lost their job.
  4. (transitive), (slang) If you tell someone to can it, you want them to stop talking.
    Can it, would you? I'm trying to watch TV.

Noun change



an open can
  1. (countable) A can is a metal container, usually for holding food or drink.
    I drink cola from a can.
    Spaghetti hoops come in a can.