Macquarie Dictionary Blog: Archives
Spelling matters: 'can not' or 'cannot'
Jun 30, 2010
A correspondent has raised the matter of the difference between can not and cannot. I don't see it as a British/U.S./Australian difference but as a question of emphasis.
I cannot see the point.
With the emphasis on cannot.
I can not see the point.
With the emphasis on the not.
There are contexts where you deliberately go for can not -- where the not is part of another construction.
I can not only swim out a fair way but actually reach the other side.
I can do it or not do it as I choose.
The sentence: I can not do my homework if that is how I feel.
Is quite different from: I cannot do my homework however much I try.
Do you make any distinction between can not and cannot?
Want some help with other common confusables? Check out our other comparison blogs
- aitch versus haitch
- can not versus cannot
- compliment versus complement
- dependent versus dependant
- dispatch versus despatch
- effect versus affect
- far-fetched versus far-flung
- hijack versus highjack
- hunker down versus bunker down
- jail versus gaol
- just deserts versus just desserts
- licence versus license
- myriad versus myriad of
- practice versus practise
- program versus programme
- skol versus scull
- sneaked versus snuck
- while versus whilst
This article was originally posted on our Facebook page.
Join the discussion!
There are no comments yet. Be the first to post a comment!
Check out our featured articles:
Macquarie Dictionary Blog archives
2015 (58) 2015 (58)
2014 (67) 2014 (67)
2013 (28) 2013 (28)
2012 (20) 2012 (20)
2011 (18) 2011 (18)
2010 (20) 2010 (20)
2009 (3) 2009 (3)
2008 (2) 2008 (2)
1998 (1) 1998 (1)
Most searched terms
Join Macquarie Dictionary today!
Enjoy all the great features by subscribing today.