Listen to these three sentences.
Can you sing? /kɪn/
Yes, I can sing. /kɪn/
Yes, I can. /kæn/
In a question or yes answer, we say /kɪn/ because can isn’t the main verb.
In a short answer, we say /kæn/ because can is the main verb.
1. How can I help you?
2. Can I help you?
3. The cowgirl can ride a horse. The cowboy can also ride a horse.
4. Can the man swim? Yes, he can. And the dog can swim, too.
5. Can these people cook? Of course, they can.
Check the pronunciation of the sentences above. Did you get each one right?
3. /kɪn/ … /kɪn/
4. /kɪn/ … /kæn/ … /kɪn/
5. /kɪn/ … /kæn/
Note: The negative can’t /kænt/ is always stressed.
In fact, all negative verb forms are always stressed: can’t, won’t, didn’t, couldn’t, etc.