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Sentence Patterns using "What can you...?"

We can use these questions in a few different ways. In general, we use questions like this to talk about what is possible.

Question Word + can + subject + verb...?

We use it to ask general questions about abilities, talents, and skills.
  • What can you do well?
  • What can you not do well?
  • How can I learn to speak English well?
  • How can I become fluent in English?
  • How can I learn to swim?
  • Who can lead the team to a championship?
We can use these questions to ask about the possibility of something.
  • When can you come?
  • What food can you bring to the party?
  • When can we go home?
  • Where can I buy a coat like that?
  • What can we do about this problem?
  • Why can't she come?
  • Who can come to my party? Raise your hand.
  • Where can we get something to eat?
  • How can it be done?
  • How can we go?
  • Who can help us?
We can also use this question pattern to ask for permission.
  • Which computer can I use?
  • What time can the audience enter the arena?
  • When can we go home?
  • What book can I take home?
We can also use this question to offer help in some cases.
  • What can I do to help?
  • How can I help you?
  • What can I bring to the party?
Bonus Tips and Points

1. Remember that some questions have different patterns.
  • How many people can come?
  • How much gas can your car hold?
  • How much can you donate?
  • How often can you come?
  • How many times a week can you come?
  • Who can help?
  • What food can be brought into the stadium?
  • What kinds of lessons can we download from the site?
2. When we are surprised by someone's ability, then we can use this kind of question.
  • What can't you do?
    (=Wow! It seems like you can do everything.)

  • What instrument can you not play?
    (=Wow! You can play many instruments.)
3. We can make a negative question in two ways. It depends on if we are using the contraction (can't) or not.
  • What food can't you eat
  • What food can you not eat?
Real-World English Conversations

A) What time can we go home?
B) We can't go home until we finish all of this work.
A) What if we can't finish it?
B) Then, we can't go home today. We might have to work all night.

A) What languages can you speak?
B) I can speak Korean and English well. I can also speak a little Russian.

A) How can we get there?
B) We can take a bus, but it is probably easier to take a taxi.

A) Why can't we see it?
B) She says we can't see it because it is a secret.

Study these free English lessons to improve your English speaking. If you learn these common sentence patterns well, then your English speaking will improve greatly and you will be able to have fluent conversations in English in the near future! Study the lessons well, practice using them at home and in real life, and make sure to come back to review the material so you do not forget.

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