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question on ending a reply with "cannot"

 
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raewon



Joined: 16 Jun 2009

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 5:23 pm    Post subject: question on ending a reply with "cannot" Reply with quote

I've just stumbled on a question someone (an English teacher) asked on the net a few years ago. Their question was whether or not "cannot" be used at the end of the sentence in short replies.
For example:
Can you swim?
No, I cannot.

Is that reply grammatically correct, or does "can't" have to be used? If "cannot" is incorrect, I would like to know why.

It seemed an odd question, so I wondered why it was asked. I checked several grammar books and couldn't find any sentences that end in "cannot". (But there also wasn't any note warning against it.)

Thanks for any replies to this one.
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le-paul



Joined: 07 Apr 2009
Location: dans la chambre

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would have thought that cannot would put more emphasis on the negative implication?

However, in real life, I often find that when using an American pronunciation, it often helps for clarity when using 'can not' and the verb begins with a 't' or 'd' etc., to use 'cannot' instead of can't because of the contractions (for example 'I can't talk now' - sounds the same as 'I can talk now').
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isitts



Joined: 25 Dec 2008
Location: Korea

PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2014 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

le-paul wrote:
I would have thought that cannot would put more emphasis on the negative implication?

However, in real life, I often find that when using an American pronunciation, it often helps for clarity when using 'can not' and the verb begins with a 't' or 'd' etc., to use 'cannot' instead of can't because of the contractions (for example 'I can't talk now' - sounds the same as 'I can talk now').


In "I can talk now", the "a" in "can" is pronounced with a schwa so it doesn't sound the same as "can't", which doesn't have a schwa. Plus, the intonation of those two sentences are different.
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isitts



Joined: 25 Dec 2008
Location: Korea

PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2014 5:41 am    Post subject: Re: question on ending a reply with "cannot" Reply with quote

raewon wrote:
I've just stumbled on a question someone (an English teacher) asked on the net a few years ago. Their question was whether or not "cannot" be used at the end of the sentence in short replies.
For example:
Can you swim?
No, I cannot.

Is that reply grammatically correct, or does "can't" have to be used? If "cannot" is incorrect, I would like to know why.


They're the same thing. Can't is a contraction of cannot, so....not sure I see the problem. It sounds a little strange (as in, overly formal) to use cannot that way, but le-paul gives a good example of when you might use it.
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Stain



Joined: 08 Jan 2014

PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2014 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can use "cannot" and "can't" or "can not" as well at the end of a sentence as these three are acceptable spellings. "Cain't" is out of the question, for the time being. Give it a couple years on that one.
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raewon



Joined: 16 Jun 2009

PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2014 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you very much for all of the replies - they were all helpful.
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