Singlish and Manglish speakers always say ‘can’, which is very confusing for many foreigners. In proper English, it means ‘sure’, ‘okay’, ‘it works’, ‘alright’.
星馬英語講者常常說can，外國人常常聽得一頭霧水。以正確英語來說，那個意思是 sure、okay、it works、alright.
The expression of ‘can’ can be traced back to the expression of kĕyĭ (可以) of Mandarin; dak1 (得) of Cantonese; and ē-tàng (會當), ē-sái (會使), tit (得) of Taiwanese Hokkien. These Chinese expressions are usually said when someone is giving a direct and positive response.
For example: 例如：
1. I would like to have coffee. – Can.
2. Save more money and go for holiday twice a year. – Sure can.
3. I will pass the documents to your office. – Can.
If you are listening and switching the word ‘can’ to another expression, it would make more sense to you:
1. I would like to have coffee. – Sure.
2. Save more money and go for holiday twice a year. – It surely works.
3. I will pass the documents to your office. – Alright / Okay.
I usually don’t say and write ‘can’ that frequently. Instead of saying ‘you can go home now’, I would say ‘you may go home now’. It has become my habit to avoid saying and writing ‘can’ and ‘will’ so that I am able to avoid sounding too localised.
我通常避免常常寫can或will。與其說 you can go home now，我或者說 you may go home now。避免頻頻寫can或will就是我避開本地化英文的方法。