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  1. #1
    Will17 is offline Senior Member
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    Cool I can't speak English today

    Hello!

    Is the use of the present simple correct here, please?

    "I can't speak English today".

    Should we use the present perfect (I haven't been able to speak English today) instead?

    Thank you very much
    Will

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: I can't speak English today

    Quote Originally Posted by Will17 View Post
    Hello!

    Is the use of the present simple correct here, please?

    "I can't speak English today".

    Should we use the present perfect (I haven't been able to speak English today) instead?

    Thank you very much
    Will
    I'm not sure what you mean. If you could speak English yesterday (ie if you were able to speak English, you knew the language) then you can speak English today.

    Are you saying that you are not allowed/permitted to speak English today? If so, then "I can't speak English today" is fine but you may want to add the reason.

    If you are saying that you wanted to practice your English today but due to circumstances beyond your control, it wasn't possible then "I haven't been able to speak English today" would be much more appropriate.

  3. #3
    Will17 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: I can't speak English today

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    I'm not sure what you mean. If you could speak English yesterday (ie if you were able to speak English, you knew the language) then you can speak English today.

    Are you saying that you are not allowed/permitted to speak English today? If so, then "I can't speak English today" is fine but you may want to add the reason.

    If you are saying that you wanted to practice your English today but due to circumstances beyond your control, it wasn't possible then "I haven't been able to speak English today" would be much more appropriate.
    Thank you Emsr2d2
    In fact, today, the words just don't come out of my mouth properly! Can I say "I can't speak English today"?

    Thank you
    Will

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: I can't speak English today

    I think you can. My wife says it sometimes when she's tired and makes mistakes she normally wouldn't. However, not everyone would understand you immediately.

  5. #5
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: I can't speak English today

    Quote Originally Posted by Will17 View Post
    Thank you Emsr2d2
    In fact, today, the words just don't come out of my mouth properly! Can I say "I can't speak English today"?

    Thank you
    Will
    I agree with Tdol. It's the right phrase for what you're trying to say but it may not be immediately clear. Maybe "I'm having trouble speaking English today!" in a slightly sarcastic voice.

  6. #6
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is online now Moderator
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    Default Re: I can't speak English today

    In the right context, you'd be okay. Right after you made the second slip would be okay.

    I've certainly said "I can't type today" in IM exchanges with colleagues after my third blatant typing error and even "I can't seem to speak today" after tripping over my tongue a couple times.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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