The epistemic reading of kan seems possible only with progressives, and perhaps statives, including the copula de. There are differences in judgments of acceptability even in these cases. Speakers of more conservative Sranan (Nengre or dipi tongo) prefer to use the periphrastic expression a kan de (taki) or the adverb kande ‘perhaps’ to express epistemic meaning. E.g.,
A kan de taki Jan ben sribi kaba
[3SG can COP COMP John PST sleep already]
'It’s possible that John was already asleep.’ (Winford 1997: 94)
Kande Jan ben sribi kaba.
[perhaps John PST sleep already]
'Perhaps John was already asleep.'
Source: Winford 1997: 92
Source: Winford 1997: 94