The future of modal verb “can”

Hey ABA family!

So we know how to use the modal verb “can” in the present tense, but do we know how to use it in the future? Fear not as in today’s blog post we are going to look at its structure and how to use it in the future.

“Can” in the future”

As explained in unit 80 of ABA’s complete course, we use “can” to express possibility or ability. It is a modal verb which in turn means that when we conjugate it in the future, it cannot be used with the normal future auxiliary verb “will” but in another way. In the future therefore we use the conjugated “to be able to” structure.


He will be able to do the shopping for you when he comes home.

They will be able to take the car if it’s raining because I don’t need it.

I’ll be able to do it tomorrow.

You’ll be able to buy a new car in some months.

He’ll be able to repair the bicycle.

She’ll be able to lose weight if she wants.

As we also mentioned previously, the modal verb “can” or in future “to be able to” can also be used to express ability as well as possibility.


You will be able to swim very well if you practise every weekend.

She will be able to type very fast when she finishes her course.

They will be able to drive after they have done their military service.

Remember that in English the subject and the auxiliary verb “will” can be contracted in all forms.


When we want to use the future of “can” in the negative form, our auxiliary verb will not be “will” like in the affirmative but rather “won’t” which is a contraction of “will” and “not”.


I won’t be able to do it tomorrow.

They won’t be able to speak English if they don’t study.

He won’t be able to help you.

We won’t be able to go on holiday this year.

It is also important that another way to express the negative ability in the future is by using “never”.


I’ll never be able to use this programme.


Like a lot of tenses in English, creating the interrogative with “can” in its future use is very easy as all we have to do is use a verb and subject inversion and we have the question.


Will she be able to do it tomorrow?

Will you be able to speak English before the summer?

Will they be able to find us without phoning?

It’s always good to note that we do not always have to answer by regurgitating a long sentence but by using a short answer such as “Yes, I will” in affirmative and “No, I won’t” in negative.

After reading this, try to practise with all of your friends and you will see that the use of “can” in the future using “to be able to” is much easier than it seems at the beginning!

Have fun practising!

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