Modal Verbs (1): CAN
A: How was the French holiday?
B: Fine. I can sail now. I did a course there.
A: With a French trainer?
B: Yes, but she spoke English. Can you speak French?
A: No, I can’t. But a lot of French people speak English, don’t they?
B: Yes, they do. One day I needed some medicine at a chemist’s and could was able to ask for it in English.
“poder”, “saber”, “conseguir”: can, be able to
- Can não existe no present perfect nem no future. Esses tempos são formados com a forma substitutiva be able to.
- Simple present: I can speak French. I can’t speak Italian. (não) sei
- Simple past: At six she could read. She couldn’t swim. (não) sabia / He was able to call the police because he had a mobile phone with him. conseguiu
- Present perfect: I have been able to find Tom. I haven’t been able to find Jill. (não) consegui
- Future: We will be able to meet. We won’t be able to talk along. (não) poderemos
- Can/can’t vem com infinitivo sem to.
- No simple past, geralmente se usa could para expressar uma capacidade/habilidade.
- I could swim when I was four.
- Para indicar que alguém conseguiu algo numa única situação, usa-se was/were able to. Em perguntas e frases negativas, could pode também ser usado.
- Luckily I was able to (could) find a shop that was still open.
- Could you find / Were you able to find a shop that was still open?
- I couldn’t find / wasn’t able to find a shop that was still open.
- Can é usado para oferecer ou propor algo com vistas ao futuro, agora.
- Today is not possible, but we can meet tomorrow if you like.
- Se a capacidade/habilidade de fazer algo ainda não estiver dada, deve-se usar will be able to.
- He’s broken his leg, but he will be able to walk again soon.
- A não ser em respostas curtas (p. ex. Yes, I can), can não pode ficar sozinho (isto é, sem outro verbo).
- I can speak French. Eu sei francês.
- I don’t cook very often. My husband can do it better. Meu marido cozinha melhor.
Verbos de percepção sensorial
- Esses verbos – see, hear, smell, taste e touch – são geralmente usados com can ou could para expressar uma percepção momentânea.
- I can see/hear/smell the sea. Vejo/ouço/sinto o mar.
- I could taste something bitter in the soup. Senti algo amargo na sopa.
- Há somente duas formas: can (simple present) e could (simple past); outras formas temporais: be able to
- Simple past = could somente em afirmações genéricas; o que se consegue uma única vez = was/were able to
- Com referência ao future: can para ofertas e propostas; fora isso, will be able to
- See, hear, smell, taste e touch: com can / could em casos de percepção sensorial única
Referência: “Grammar – No problem” – Christine House e John Stevens, Disal Editora, 2005. Leia a resenha.