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    #1

    can not

    I have this teacher who says 'the spelling "can not" is not gramatically acceptable but I usually see it in some texts'1. cannot2. can notDo you have a rule about it?Thanks,

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    #2

    Re: can not

    When I was at school in England half a century ago I was taught that 'cannot' must be written as one word. Many, but not all, speakers of BrE still follow this rule.

    Later note. Though Quirk et al (1985.138) say "The spelling of can not as two words is unusual", BNC has 21,700 citations for can not and none for cannot. I do not understand this.
    Last edited by 5jj; 15-Feb-2012 at 11:04. Reason: Note added.

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    #3

    Re: can not

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    When I was at school in England half a century ago I was taught that 'cannot' must be written as one word. Many, but not all, speakers of BrE still follow this rule.

    Later note. Though Quirk et al (1985.138) say "The spelling of can not as two words is unusual", BNC has 21,700 citations for can not and none for cannot. I do not understand this.
    So I think nowadays the uses of 'cannot', 'can't' and 'can not' are all the same and equally possible, Yes?
    Thanks,

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    #4

    Re: can not

    I have no problems with cannot/can not; can't, like all contractions, is best avoided in formal writing.

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    #5

    Re: can not

    And is the rule (or the semi-rule or something) only for the auxiliary verb 'can' or you have silimar rules for some other verbs too?
    Some examples are: mustnot, must not, mustn't, (might, may, etc)
    However mustnot and musn't are not familiar to my eyes,

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    #6

    Re: can not

    'Can' is the only modal that fuses with 'not'.

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    #7

    Re: can not

    Quote Originally Posted by atabitaraf View Post
    Yes?
    ,

    CAUTION: NOT A TEACHER


    (1) In my very humble opinion, the answer is NO.

    (2) Here in the United States of America, people "always" spell it as one

    word: cannot.

    (3) Can't is fine in conversation and in informal writing.

    (4) In American English, there seems to be only one exception:

    When you use a not only ... but also kind of sentence, such as

    "His is among very few voices that can not only get away with numbers

    like 'You are so beautiful to Me,' but actually make them moving."


    Source: Bryan A. Garner, A Dictionary of Modern American Usage (1988), page 106.

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    #8

    Re: can not

    I see nothing wrong with writing can not as two words - especially when not is emphasised and/or ends the sentence.

    'Can I fire your gun, dad?'
    'No! You certainly can not.'

    Rover

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