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  1. #1
    ref1 is offline Newbie
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    Default pronounce can't and can

    I just came to the US and I'm always confused when people say can't and can
    I don't know which word are they saying.

    Can't has the t sound at the end, but most American people don't say that t sound. So they just say like Can'
    so it's the same thing as can - the opposite word

    and the important thing is i don't know to pronounce those 2 words exactly and sometimes I don't understand what they say either.

  2. #2
    mxreader is offline Member
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    Default Re: pronounce can't and can

    For ESL I suggest you say it like the English/British. This is for clarity and there is little chance that you will be misunderstood.

    So say "can't" with an "a" as in "argue".

  3. #3
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: pronounce can't and can

    Quote Originally Posted by ref1 View Post
    I just came to the US and I'm always confused when people say can't and can
    I don't know which word are they saying.

    Can't has the t sound at the end, but most American people don't say that t sound. So they just say like Can'
    so it's the same thing as can - the opposite word

    and the important thing is i don't know to pronounce those 2 words exactly and sometimes I don't understand what they say either.
    Interesting observation. If you ask most Br Eng speakers - probably with the sole exception of people who have studied phonology - 'What's the difference between can and can't?' you'll get the answer 'One's got a t'. But what we really listen for to distinguish the two is the vowel sound. So follow mxreader's advice. Often, when a speaker of Am Eng says 'can't' I have to think twice about what I really heard (and whether one or the other makes more sense in the context - If an American seems to say 'Sorry, I can' I can guess [because of the 'Sorry'] that 'can't is the more likely of the two.

    But on the last point you're wrong: there is an audible difference between [kæn] and [kænʖ], just as there is an audible difference in Br Eng between [kæn] and [ka:nʖ]. It's just that the difference, in Br Eng, doesn't depend on your hearing the [ʖ] - which is often an indistinct sound (but it's there, as a spectrograph would show).

    b

  4. #4
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    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: pronounce can't and can

    Even native speakers have to stop someone to say "I'm sorry -- did you just say he can or he cannot?" from time to time. Context will often help, but not always. I agree that it can be very hard to hear the difference sometimes.
    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.

  5. #5
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: pronounce can't and can

    You're not alone.

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