Asking questions about ability

The most common structure used is ‘Can you…?’

Read the following sentences. They are all questions about ability. Sample answers are also given.

‘Can you speak English?’ ‘Yes, I can.’

‘Can you swim?’ ‘No, I can’t.’
‘Can you sing a song?’ ‘No, I can’t. I have a terrible voice.’
‘Can they repair the roof?’ ‘Yes, they can.’
‘Can you help me?’ ‘Of course. What can I do for you?’
‘Can you solve this problem?’ ‘Yes, I can.’
‘Can you sing that song again?’ ‘Yes, I can.’
‘Can you translate this letter into German?’ ‘No, I can’t’
‘Can you make a tea?’ ‘No, I can’t.’
‘Can you fix my computer?’ ‘Yes, I can.’
‘Can he ride a bicycle?’ ‘Yes, he can.’
‘Can she dance?’ ‘No, she can’t.’


To show inability, we use cannot (can’t) or could not (couldn’t).

Things to remember

Can is followed by an infinitive without to.

I can play the piano. (NOT I can to play the piano.) (NOT I can played the piano.)

Can does not take the marker –s when the subject is a singular noun or third person pronoun.

I can sing.

You can sing.

She can sing. (NOT She cans sing.) (NOT She can sings.)

They can sing.

It can sing.

We can sing.