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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    Difference between cannot and can't

    Can anyone explain to me what is the difference between "cannot" and "can't", please?

  2. VIP Member
    Interested in Language
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    #2

    Re: Difference between cannot and can't

    Can't, can not and cannot mean the same thing. People write cannot occasionally in some formal contexts where the less formal contracted form feels too casual.
    I am not a teacher.

  3. VIP Member
    Retired English Teacher
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    #3

    Re: Difference between cannot and can't

    If I use the uncontracted form, I always write cannot as one word except when I wish to express the idea that it is possible for me not to do something.

    A: Why are you so stressed? If you don't want to go. don't go.
    B. Well, I can not go, but my boss will be very unhappy if I don't.


    Neither can't nor cannot works in that context.

  4. Senior Member
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    #4

    Re: Difference between cannot and can't

    "cannot" is more formal; "can't" is less formal. People are more likely to use "can't" in casual speech, but "cannot" in a formal academic paper.

    "cannot" should be written as one word when it means "can't". You can write "can not" in sentences like "You can not only take a bus; you can also take a train." Here, the word "not" belongs with "only", not with "can".
    NOT A TEACHER. Translator and editor, and I hold a TESOL certificate. Native speaker of American English (West Coast)

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