+0
We use 'can' to say that sth is possible or that somebody has the ability to do something. Therefore I generate the following sentences,
1) I can speak English. (ability)
2) The word 'influence' can be a noun or a verb. If the accent falls on the first syllable, it's a noun; if the second, a verb. (possibility)

One student wrote a sentence, The parking lot can park a lot of cars, which is grammatically correct(I think so, Subject+can+verb) but it sounds weird to my ears. I told her that was wrong. I gave provided several examples for her to generalize her own conclusion.
3) I can speak English.
4) I can walk and run.
5) I can drive a car.
6) I can park a car.
So far, the student saw eye to eye with me.
7) The parking lot can park a car.
Now, the student smiled.Emotion: big smile And she said,"Wrong, Teacher!" She thinks only use 'animate' subjects before 'can' when you are talking about 'ability', and as 'the parking lot' is not animate, this sentence doesn't make sence.

To to give it a second thought, I found myself couldn't explain this well enough and those examples were a bit shaky and fragile after I came up another example in mind
8) The car can run fast.

The car, [-animate].
But it has an engine that makes it run, and I think it is because of the engine stuff that makes the car a bit []. Therefore, #7 is OK. Am I right on this?

Hope you understand my post as someone said I always set up some challenges and make them headachy. But I'm still looking forward to your excellent points.

Comments  
I'm not sure that you are sure of your numbers, Pastel, but--

(8) is right, for the reason you gave, but (7) is still wrong, for the same reason-- no engine (i.e. no ability to accomplish anything).
Thank you very much, Mister Micawber.
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Dear pastel,
I read your post. I found it interesting. The thing about putting can only after an animate things sounds fine but a simple modification of the original sentence may help solve the problem.

How about using 'accomodate' with 'can'?

The parking lot can acomodate lots of cars.

If my example is correct then 'can' here refers to ability and the sentence probably does not sound as weired.[hopefully]

I'm not a native speaker anyway.

please comment.
The parking lot can park a lot of cars.

Your focus on "can" is throwing you off the track. The problem lies with the verb "park".

"park" is the verb which requires an animate agent, not "can"!

A parking lot ('car park' in British English) cannot move the car into a parking space. That is why it sounds weird.

"The parking lot can hold a lot of cars." This is the idea suggested by the weird sentence above.

***

Experts' Corner.

That said, let me say that there is still a glimmer of hope for thinking of "park" as a verb meaning "hold (parked cars)". And that can be done by granting it honorary membership in a group of verbs called the "fit" verbs. These, according to Beth Levin (English Verb Classes and Alternations, 1993), are "carry, contain, fit, feed, hold, house, seat, sleep, store, take, use". I propose adding "park". The analogy is with the verb "sleep", used in a very special way.

Each room sleeps five people. (Ms. Levin used this example.)
The ship's master cabin can sleep four adults and two children.

"to sleep" in this sense means "to have sleeping accommodations for (some number of people)" or "to fit/hold (some number of people) sleeping".

Note that most of the "fit" verbs take a location as subject and express the idea of capacity.

The glass contains two cups of water.
This recipe will feed 12.
The concert hall seats more than 20,000.

But a parking lot is a location, and holding a lot of cars expresses the idea of capacity, so why not???

The parking lot parks a lot of cars.
The parking lot can park a lot of cars.

There is a stylistic problem in the use of the word "park" in two places very close to one another. That, too, makes the sentences sound unidiomatic. So let's separate the two uses of "park" into different sentences and provide interesting and realistic contexts for these sentences.

A land developer was discussing how to make use of land beside a hotel he had had constructed. He turned to his assistants and said, "We could use that land for a parking lot for the hotel. Given the capacity of the hotel, it would have to park at least 1,000 cars."

A parking lot attendant from the lot on Elm Street was bragging to the attendant from the lot on Oak Street.
"Our parking lot is really huge," he said. "It parks 100 cars."
"That's nothing," said the other. "Ours parks 500."

So, as a speaker of English, are you ready to accept "park" as a verb meaning "hold parked cars"? Do you think it will be a long time before "park" is accepted in English with this meaning? Do you think "park" is already being used with this meaning? Do you think you need more experience with English before you decide?

These are just some ideas to think about. Pretty interesting, I think.
Hi, bubu,

First of all, thanks for joining this thread. I'm glad you find my posts interesting. Have you had the chance to read my other posts? I bet you will find more pleasure than here.

Take a look at American Heritage® Dictionary.
2. To provide for; supply with.
3. To hold comfortably without crowding. See synonyms at contain.

Your example is very correct. But have you compared the following pairs?
The parking lot can acomodate lots of cars.
The parking lot can park lots of cars.

The hotel can accommodate 500 tourists.
The hotel can live 500 tourists.

People can park their cars.
People can live in that hotel.
The verb park/live take [] subject.

What do you think? bubu?
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Oops! I haven't realized Jim beat me to it. hehe.

On the other hand, I am on the right track now.