We use this sentence pattern in a few ways. Subject + cannot + verb...
We use it to talk about abilities, skills, and talents that we or other people do not have.
- I cannot swim.
- She cannot play any instruments.
- Sharks can't walk.
- He can't speak English.
We often use adverbs after the verb to give more detail.
- He cannot speak English well.
- We can't come soon.
- I cannot sing well.
- We can't dance very well.
- She cannot run very fast.
We also use this pattern to talk about things that are not possible.
- I cannot come to the party because I have to work.
- We cannot live there because we do not have enough money.
- She can't come.
- We can't do it.
- They cannot come to the meeting today because they are busy.
- I can't meet you before noon.
We use it to show that a person does not have permission to do something.
- She cannot use my computer.
- We can't take this on the airplane.
- My dog cannot sleep on the bed.
Most native English speakers use the contraction "can't" when speaking.
Bonus Tips and Points
- They can't believe it.
- I can't do it well.
- We can't stop laughing about what happened.
- She can't speak Japanese.
1. Look at this sentence.
- He can't speak English.
(This sentence gives the feeling that he knows 0 English words or very little English.)
Look how the adverb "well" changes the feeling.
- He can't speak English well.
(This sentence means he does speak English, but he is not very good at it.)
2. One very common English expression is "cannot stand + something/someone". "Can't stand" means that we do not like something or we think something is annoying. Subject + can't stand + noun/gerund...
Real-World English Conversations
- I can't stand working on the weekend.
- She can't stand carrots.
- I can't stand people who throw trash on the street.
- Children can't stand homework.
- They can't stand waking up early.
A) What is the delay?
B) They said the flight cannot take off until it stops snowing.
A) When will that happen?
B) There is no way that we can know that. We just have to wait.
A) I can't speak English well. What should I do?
B) I think your English is pretty good. You just should need to continue to practice.
A) Can you join us for dinner tonight?
B) I am sorry, but I can't because I have to work.
A) Can you help us finish this project?
B) I'm sorry, but I can't because I have to finish my own project by tonight.
A) He can't work well with other people. It is better if he works by himself.
B) That is a problem if he is going to continue to work for this company.
A) You can try to talk to him about it. Use these free English lessons to learn the most common sentence patterns in the English language. If you learn these sentences and questions, it will help you speak English well. Study the lessons thoroughly, practice making your own sentences, and come back to review often. If you do these three steps, your English speaking will improve quickly and you will be able to have natural English conversations.