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    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
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      • China
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      • China

    • Join Date: Oct 2009
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    #1

    Talking difference

    I am an English learner.I have difficuilty in telling the difference between the sentence"The door can't open"and "The door won't open".I will really appreciate it if you can explain to me in details. Thanks a lot!


    • Join Date: Apr 2009
    • Posts: 394
    #2

    Re: difference

    When someone is trying to open a door and they are unable to get it open, I have heard Americans say both. However, "The door won't open" is much more common. In actual usage by American speakers, there's no difference in meaning. However, something tells me this will not stop you from reading some difference into them. Feel free.

    Greg

  1. bhaisahab's Avatar
    • Member Info
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      • British English
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      • England
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      • Ireland

    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 25,630
    #3

    Re: difference

    Quote Originally Posted by tianhang View Post
    I am an English learner.I have difficuilty in telling the difference between the sentence"The door can't open"and "The door won't open".I will really appreciate it if you can explain to me in details. Thanks a lot!
    "Can't" (cannot) is about inability.
    "Won't" (will not) is about refusal. If I say "I can't do it", it means that I am incapable of doing it. If, however, I say I won't do it", it means that I refuse to do it, it doesn't say anything about my ability to do it.
    A door, being an inanimate object can't be said to have the desire to refuse to open, so in that example they mean essentially the same thing.

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