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    #1

    can't help thinking or gerund

    "I can't help thinking about the girl I met at the party last night."

    OR

    "I can't help but think about the girl I met at the party last night."

    What's the difference in meaning?

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    #2

    Re: can't help thinking or gerund

    Quote Originally Posted by ostap77 View Post
    "I can't help thinking about the girl I met at the party last night."

    OR

    "I can't help but think about the girl I met at the party last night."

    What's the difference in meaning?
    "I can't help but..." is non-standard.

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    #3

    Re: can't help thinking or gerund

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    "I can't help but..." is non-standard.
    So it's grammatically incorrect? Here is what I've just read in a grammar text-book "Can't help but+infinitive without to is sometimes used with the meaning of "can't help.....ing".
    Last edited by ostap77; 04-Jan-2011 at 13:49.

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: can't help thinking or gerund

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    "I can't help but..." is non-standard.
    I am not so sure that it is, these days.

    The Oxford ALD lists it as idiomatic, with the example: She couldn't help but wonder what he was thinking.

    I think I use it.

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    #5

    Re: can't help thinking or gerund

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    I think I use it.
    I'm pretty sure I do.

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    #6

    Re: can't help thinking or gerund

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    I'm pretty sure I do.
    So it can be used in the following context " I can't help but think about what's going to happen to us all if we don't pass this exam"?
    Last edited by ostap77; 04-Jan-2011 at 15:59.

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    #7

    Re: can't help thinking or gerund

    Quote Originally Posted by ostap77 View Post
    So it can be used in the following context " I can't help but think about what's going to happen to us all if we don't pass this exam"?
    It's OK with "about".

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    #8

    Re: can't help thinking or gerund

    ostap77
    Do you speak Russian? This is what my dictionary gives as examples:
    She can't help thinking of it. Она не может не думать об этом.
    a)I could not help laughing. Я не мог удержаться от смеха; я не мог не засмеяться.
    b)I couldn't help but laugh. Я не мог не смеяться.

    a) and b) are equal here, but birdeen's call and fivejedjon say that they can't be used with the same meaning

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    #9

    Re: can't help thinking or gerund

    Quote Originally Posted by TheNewOne View Post
    ostap77
    Do you speak Russian? This is what my dictionary gives as examples:
    She can't help thinking of it. — Она не может не думать об этом.
    a)I could not help laughing. — Я не мог удержаться от смеха; я не мог не засмеяться.
    b)I couldn't help but laugh. — Я не мог не смеяться.

    a) and b) are equal here, but birdeen's call and fivejedjon say that they can't be used with the same meaning
    Not as good as you doFivejedjon just gave an example from the text-book. He didn't say that we can't use it. Thanks for you explanation.
    Last edited by ostap77; 06-Jan-2011 at 12:18.

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    #10

    Re: can't help thinking or gerund

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    It's OK with "about".
    There would be no difference between 1)"can't help thinking" and 2)"can't help but think"? One of my text-books says 2) more American. Is frequently used in BE?

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