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Thread: CAN't vs DON't

  1. #1
    KEN JPN is offline Junior Member
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    Default CAN't vs DON't

    This is not a grammar question but rather a question about context or actual usage.

    1, I can't believe you!
    2, I
    don't believe you!

    What context would you imagine?
    To what statement or scene should they be said well, does one fit better than the other?

    I am asking this because generally Japanese students tend to use "can't" too often, even when "don't" matches better.
    So, I want to know a lot of situations where each of these really fits well, including these two can be used interchangeably.

    Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: CAN't vs DON't

    I think "I don't believe you" would apply about 95% of the time. (Wild guess on the number.)

    To me, "I can't believe you" means "I don't think you are telling me a deliberate lie, and maybe I would like to believe you, but it's impossible for me to accept this as the truth." (It would be the same if you didn't want it to be the truth.)
    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.

  3. #3
    Natalie1991 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: CAN't vs DON't

    I would use 'don't'. The other way sounds odd...

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