Verbs following can don’t take -ing. We can say:

I can fly

but we don’t say:

I can flying

I’m not sure what the rule behind this is. I have a feeling it’s to do with auxiliary verbs and/or helping verbs. I have a faint recollection of auxiliary verbs being followed by straight verbs but I’m not sure if this rule has a name or not.


  • 3
    Can is a modal verb. Modal verbs are always followed by infinitive (first form of the verb). – Void Sep 2 at 11:53
  • Right. That's the straightforward answer. The modal verbs -- can, could, shall, should, will, would, may, might, must, and sometimes need and dare -- must be followed by infinitive (plain, present) verb forms, and not by -ing (participial, gerund) verb forms, or any other form of verb. No to is used before the infinitives, either. Modals are weird. – John Lawler Sep 2 at 15:00

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