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    #1

    Cannot but ...

    Hello,

    Just out of curiosity; does not I cannot but think sound dated?

    Thank you very much
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  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Cannot but ...

    Hmmm, I'm not sure about dated, but it's certainly stylised.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #3

    Re: Cannot but ...

    "I can only think.." may be a more commonly used phrase.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Cannot but ...

    Or "I can think only [that] ...".
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #5

    Re: Cannot but ...

    I don't see it as dated, but it's more likely to be found in formal language.

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    #6

    Re: Cannot but ...

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    I have made up these sentences.

    1. I cannot but think that he is telling a fib. (a little untruth)

    2. I cannot help thinking that he is telling a fib.

    3. I cannot help but think that he is telling a fib.

    According to some usage experts, #1 and #2 are "correct."

    #3, according to those experts, is a combination of #1 and #2. It should be avoided, they suggest.

    I frequently hear and read all three versions.

    *****

    I know that 95% of learners here are interested in speaking correct, current English. They are NOT interested in grammatical analysis.

    But for those few who are, they might like to know what my favorite grammarian says.

    Dr. George Oliver Curme, who studied the historical development of English, would say that #1 is a shorter version of "I cannot [do anything] but [that I do] think that he is telling a fib."

    Of course, no one talks like that. His analysis was meant ONLY to show, for example, why we use the form "think" after the word "but."
    Last edited by TheParser; 15-Nov-2015 at 11:59.

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