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Word Count: 1,261
There are not that many words in English that can without any change in their grammar structure be both a verb a noun several slang nouns and a transitive verb that is the one that derived from the noun The verbal meaning of can came to our language from either Old High German kan in modern German it is kann and has the same meaning as English can or from Old Englishs cunnan which meant to know more If we think for a moment about the meaning of being able to do something as can prescribes us to behave we cannot deny the fact that it must absolutely involve some knowledge of how to do that Thus I tend to believe that Old Englishs origin of can is more convincing Since every subjects examination starts with identification and understanding of the matter we start by looking up the word can in the Merriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary and see that it has several usage variants many of which include phrasiological participles The first meaning and the most obvious and common usage of can to us all is to be able to do something to know how to do something In this context the commonly used synonym of can is may but often the speaker does not know the exact meanings of two words which are quite confusing and mismatches them in his writings or speaking The controversy of these words usage is in the fact that both express the idea of giving or requesting permission but at the same time the word can is more concerned with somebodys individual ability to perform a task while may is a more formal way of dealing with the matter and asks for another partys permission to do something I would like to stress here that even though both can and may are verbs they are never used in the indefinite form meaning that we do not say to may
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