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Could someone please explain to me the difference between "can" and "can be" please.

I am just confused about the use of "be" after can.

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JigneshbharatiCould someone please explain to me the difference between "can" and "can be" please.I am just confused about the use of "be" after can.

I don't understand your problem.

I can be happy.

I can go home.

I can eat spinach.

etc

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JigneshbharatiI am just confused about the use of "be" after can.

be is the infinitive form. Other forms you are probably already familiar with are am, is, are, was, were, being, and been. These all belong to the same verb the same way that see, sees, saw, seeing, and seen all belong to the same verb. No, in the case of be, the words don't look alike at all. There isn't even a "b" in forms like are and was. But these all come from the same verb.

We always use the infinitive form after modal verbs like "can". Therefore, we say can be, but not can being, can been, or can was, to mention just a few of the wrong combinations.


can be combines the idea of ability or possibility with am, is, are. For example:

Robert [ is ] a doctor.
Robert [ can be ] a doctor someday if he studies hard.

The cups [ are ] placed on the table.
The cups [can be] placed on the table later.

I [ am ] interesting to talk to.
I [ can be ] interesting to talk to if I make an effort.

It [ is ] hot here in the summer.
It [ can be ] hot here in the summer.

Karen [ is ] rude.
Karen [ can be ] rude if she's in a bad mood.

Children [ are ] afraid of spiders and snakes.
Children [ can be ] afraid of spiders and snakes.

In this hotel the sheets [ are ] changed every day.
In this hotel the sheets [ can be ] changed every day if you request it.

This kind of hammer [ is ] found in any hardware store.
This kind of hammer [ can be ] found in any hardware store.

CJ

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Thanks. Does "be" always indicate the state and not the action?

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Jigneshbharati Does "be" always indicate the state and not the action?

Yes—except when it is used in continuous and passive verb forms as an auxiliary.

Jigneshbharati

Thanks. Does "be" always indicate a state and not an action?

Almost all the time. There is an exception - "be" can mean "behave" in certain sentences.

Is the boy being good to his sister today?

Thanks. So, is "being" an action verb here?
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 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.

Thank you for a lucid explanation! Much appreciated