Cannot vs Can Not

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What’s the difference between them?

Cannot

Meaning:

Not able to; not allowed to; not permitted to; not possible.

Examples:

1. I cannot understand why he left like that.

2. She cannot finish the task by the deadline.

3. We cannot guarantee a refund at this time.

Can Not

Meaning:

cannot: used to express impossibility or unavailability

Examples:

1. I can not believe it's already the end of the year.

2. I can not wait to go on vacation next month.

3. We can not continue this project without the necessary resources.

Learn similar and opposite words to spot the difference

Synonyms

Antonyms

Cannot

1. Inability

2. Impossibility

3. Prohibited

4. Out of the question

5. Off limits

1. Can

2. Able

3. Capable

4. Qualified

5. Permitted

Can Not

1. Cannot

2. Unable

3. Impossibility

4. Inability

5. Prohibit

1. Able

2. Capable

3. Allowed

4. Permitted

5. Can Do

Tricks for mastery

Useful tips to understand the difference between confusing words "Cannot", "Can Not".

Cannot (one word) is an adverb that means 'is not able to'. Mnemonic phrase: 'I cannot do it.'

Can Not (two words) is an verb phrase that means 'am not allowed to'. Mnemonic phrase: 'I can not do it.'

The distinction between the two words is an important one to understand, as the incorrect usage of one of them will result in a change of meaning. To remember the difference, it can be helpful to think of 'cannot' as being the single word form, and 'can not' as being two words. It can also be helpful to think of 'can not' as being a shortened form of 'am not able to', which is the meaning the two words convey. Additionally, it can be helpful to keep in mind that the American English spelling for 'cannot' is 'can't', while the British English spelling is 'cannot'.

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Frequently asked questions

When should 'cannot' be used?

'Cannot' should be used to express a lack of ability or permission to do something. For example, you might say, 'I cannot come to the party tonight.' It is also used to express certainty that something is impossible. For example, 'It cannot be true.'

When is the appropriate context for using 'can not'?

'Can not' is used as a variant 'cannot' in informal writing or speech. For example, 'I can not come to the party tonight.' It is generally used in more casual contexts, such as in text messages, emails, or conversations.

Do the two words share the same pronunciation?

Yes, 'cannot' and 'can not' are both pronounced the same way. The emphasis is on the first syllable, with a slightly longer sound on the second syllable.

What are some common mistakes people make when using these words?

An often-made mistake is to use 'can not' in formal writing or speech. Although 'can not' is accepted in informal contexts, it is considered incorrect in more formal contexts, so it is important to use 'cannot' in those settings.

Fill in the gaps to check yourself

1. I ___ believe she really said that!

2. I ___ make it to the party this weekend.

3. You ___ do anything with this.

4. I ___ express how sorry I am.

5. I ___ understand why youre so upset.

6. I ___ wait to see the results.

1. Cannot

Explanation: The word cannot is used to express disbelief or to emphasize the impossibility of something. In this sentence, the speaker is expressing their disbelief at what the other person said, and so cannot is the most suitable word to fill the gap.

2. Cannot

Explanation: The phrase cannot make it is used to express an inability to attend an event. In this sentence, the speaker is expressing their inability to attend the party, and so cannot is the most suitable word to fill the gap.

3. Cannot

Explanation: The word cannot is used to express disbelief or to emphasize the impossibility of something. In this sentence, the speaker is expressing disbelief in the other persons ability to cope with situation.

4. Cannot

Explanation: The phrase cannot express is used to express an inability to fully convey a feeling or emotion. In this sentence, the speaker is expressing their inability to fully express how sorry they are, and so cannot is the most suitable word to fill the gap.

5. Cannot

Explanation: The phrase cannot understand is used to express an inability to comprehend a given situation. In this sentence, the speaker is expressing their confusion at why the other person is so upset, and so cannot is the most suitable word to fill the gap.

6. Cannot

Explanation: The phrase cannot wait is used to express an eagerness or anticipation for something. In this sentence, the speaker is expressing their anticipation for the results, and so cannot is the most suitable word to fill the gap.

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List of Commonly Confused Words

Finding your way around the English language can be hard, especially since there are so many confusing words and rules. So, a list of the most confusing words in English is an extremely useful tool for improving language accuracy and sharing the ideas clearly.