Results 1 to 4 of 4
  1. beachboy's Avatar
    Senior Member
    Student or Learner
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Portuguese
      • Home Country:
      • Brazil
      • Current Location:
      • Brazil

    • Join Date: Jan 2008
    • Posts: 1,114
    #1

    can't & must not

    John always walks to work. He can't have a car.

    Does "he must not have a car" convey the same idea? If so, which one is more common in everyday English? Can I use the contraction "mustn't in this case?

  2. VIP Member
    Interested in Language
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Dec 2015
    • Posts: 12,363
    #2

    Re: can't & must not

    "Can't" means something is preventing him from having a car - a legal judgment, for example. "Must not" (which can't be contracted in this meaning) means the speaker thinks that John doesn't have a car.
    I am not a teacher.

  3. Piscean's Avatar
    VIP Member
    Retired English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • Europe
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Jul 2015
    • Posts: 13,478
    #3

    Re: can't & must not

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    "Can't" means something is preventing him from having a car - a legal judgment, for example. "Must not" (which can't be contracted in this meaning) means the speaker thinks that John doesn't have a car.
    In BrE, He can't have a car could mean either that he is not able to have a car or it is logically certain that he does not have a car.
    The most likely meaning of He mustn't have a car in Br E is that he is not permitted to have a car.

    This appears to be another BrE/AmE difference.
    Last edited by Piscean; 24-May-2017 at 08:23.

  4. Raymott's Avatar
    VIP Member
    Academic
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 25,245
    #4

    Re: can't & must not

    In AusE, in the context of "John always walks to work. He mustn't have a car", "mustn't" would mean that it must be the case that he doesn't have a car.
    In the context of "John is on parole. He must report twice a week to the police, and he mustn't have a car," the meaning is that he is not permitted to have a car. So the context matters.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •