There is a word, or maybe it is two words, I can not seem to figure out. Google has been of little help to me. I thought I would ask the experts here on Hubpages. Is it can not or cannot?
Of a half dozen dictionaries, only one (Webster Miriam) lists "can't" as a contraction of "can not". All others indicate "cannot".
Personally I cannot see that a positive immediately followed by a negation makes a lot of sense. Better to use a single word indicating a negative.
The two can come apart in meaning depending on the context of the sentence, which means that the correct choice can depend on the sentence as a whole.
(1) I can not go outside
(2) I cannot go outside
The logical structure of (1) implies that the speaker has the ability to not go outside, to remain inside. The logical structure of (2) implies that the speaker is unable to go outside.
Of course, this assumes that we maintain the logical structure of "can not" vs "cannot" which is not always the case, as "correct" meanings for words are much by way of use. In this case, many do cite a usage of the two that are equal in meaning with each other. I'd still contend that the two can still come apart in meaning, although not obviously, when read by most English speakers in sentences that mean two very different things.
From the dictionary
1350-1400; Middle English
Cannot is sometimes also spelled can not. The one-word spelling is by far the more common: Interest rates simply cannot continue at their present level.The contraction can't is most common in speech and informal writing.
Either is correct, cannot is now more common, or is it can't. Hmmmmmmmm
That is a good question, to which I don't have an answer.
Generally I think I use the words interchangeably since I think they mean the same thing. In my personal experience, I am more likely to separate the words to enunciate my writing so that the "not" is read clearly. If I read it out loud, I would slightly stress the "not" in "can not" without shouting it, and in cannot, the accent would be on the "can". Yes, I know the dictionary allows both pronunciations of "cannot", so I really can't control how the audience reads it.
That really is the key from a writers point of view, not so much as to which is correct, as how will the reader perceive it. Unfortunately I can only hear it in my own head while writing. It makes a good case for hearing other people read what you have written. I have several readers who keep me in line, but what really gets interesting is when they start arguing about what I meant. Then I know I must have succeeded somewhere.
by Beth1006 years ago
This is driving me nuts!! I have configured all the settings to no avail!! I can't use the touchpad and the left click button at the same time -- the cursor jumps all over the place!! It's like a...
by spiderpam8 years ago
"Absolute truth implies that truth cannot be subject to one's own mind, but is rather established by an absolute and common Creator, therefore proving God's existence. If there is no absolute truth, it cannot be...
by Alan4 years ago
After so many posts in reply to the question of "your" and "you're," I don't have time to look through them all, but it does not seem to me that anyone has put forward the obvious need for having...
by mega16 years ago
Ok - so you cannot stay on topic in this thread! The rule says you must change the topic EVERY TIME YOU POST, thereby every post will HIGHJACK THE THREAD! please make your topic as interesting as possible so...
by jennzie5 years ago
For some reason, I now love Kraft macaroni & cheese though only the microwavable ones as I like to control how much the cheese powder dissolves (yes it's weird, but I actually like the taste of the powder...
by WolfLarsen5 years ago
There is no correct way to write poetry! But one thing to remember is that poetry is like whiskey and prose is like beer.
Copyright © 2017 HubPages Inc. and respective owners.
Other product and company names shown may be trademarks of their respective owners.
HubPages® is a registered Service Mark of HubPages, Inc.
HubPages and Hubbers (authors) may earn revenue on this page based on affiliate relationships and advertisements with partners including Amazon, Google, and others.