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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > Modal verb CAN past participle form    

Modal verb CAN past participle form


Modal verb CAN past participle form
I �ve seen in a pupil�s book for flyers, published by Cambridge University press a list of irregular verbs, in which they included "can" with a past form " could" and a past participle form "could". I have never  used " could" as a past participle,I have always said " been able to" because can is a modal verb so it has not a proper pp from.
My question is if you think, as I do, that this is wrong or it�s me who has been wrong all these years , and I�ve been teaching English for twenty five years till now��.
I would appreciate your answers, so I can have this clear.
Thanks a lot

20 Oct 2015      


In my opinion "can" doesn �t have a past participle. I �ve never seen it in any books and I �ve been teaching English for 23 years now.
I think you are right, I also use "been able to" but maybe some of our native speaking teachers can help further. 

20 Oct 2015     


NO modal verbs have past/present participles or any other non-finite verb forms. That �s, in fact, one of the reasons they are called modals. Cheers, Giorgi

20 Oct 2015     


There aren �t any past or present participle form for can in dictionaries.

20 Oct 2015     

United Kingdom

Actually, parsland, �canned � is both the past simple form and the past participle of non-modal �can �.
It can be used adjectivally, too; in fact, it used to be my default weekend state as a student – and usually ended up as my post-part-time job description as well.

20 Oct 2015     


@ almaz I wrote about can as modal and not a verb .

20 Oct 2015     

United States

Englishclub.com says

Use of could

could for past possibility or ability

We use could to talk about what was possible in the past, what we were able or free to do:

  • I could swim when I was 5 years old.
  • My grandmother could speak seven languages.
  • When we arrived home, we could not open the door. (...couldn �t open the door.)
  • Could you understand what he was saying?

20 Oct 2015     

United Kingdom

@ parsland: I know what you wrote.

20 Oct 2015