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Back to basics. Yes I can!

If you start speaking a new language it is very handy if you can tell someone what you can or cannot do. In this way, you can avoid miscommunications. In a shop when you are looking for something, the shop assistant could ask: "Can I help you?". A good question to recognise and a question you could use yourself. Not speaking the language doesn't mean you are not willing to help out your colleagues or friends. But, more often, in the beginning, you have to set your pride aside and ask: "Can you help me"?. Some other examples below.

Keep it simple.

  • I can speak only a few words;

  • He can ride a bike;

  • She can come at 10 am;

  • They can cook very well;

  • We can watch a film tonight.

If you cannot:

  • I can't speak German;

  • He can't ride a bike;

  • We can't go to the film tonight;

  • etc.

In a question:

  • Can we go to the film tonight?

  • Can you speak slower?;

  • Can they cook for us tomorrow?;

  • etc.


As you may have noticed I used a contraction in the negation. I can't instead of I cannot. Please do notice that the contraction only needs one -n-.

Both forms, can't and cannot are grammatically correct, but can't is more often used when speaking.

Note the difference below, the tone of voice is important.

  • If you can't behave, please leave. Polite and not so strong

  • If you cannot behave, please leave! Strong voice and emphasis on not

Try it out yourself

Please find here the link to a one-pager exercise sheet to test your knowledge:

or download the document below directly:

Can do Exercise A1_1
Download DOCX • 366KB

You can do it!

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