#GrammarSeries – The difference between cannot, can’t, and can not

Medieval

Hey Sparkle Writers, do you know that there is a slight difference between cannot, can’t and can not? Yes there is and we’d tell you all about it in today’s Grammar Series! 

Cannot” and “can not” might seem like they mean the same thing, but you use them in different ways. 

Cannot

“Cannot” is usually the word you want. It means “unable to” or “unwilling to” do something.

  • cannot come to rehearsal tonight.
  • Mom said I cannot have the car tomorrow.

Can Not

“Can not” is occasionally used as an alternative to the one word “cannot,” but it shows up most often when the word “not” is just part of something that comes right after “can.” For example, use “can not,” (two words) when “not” is part of a “not only… but also construction.

  • You can not only be in the play, but also choose your understudy.
  • You can not only have the car, but you can also get the car washed on your way home.‘

Can’t

“Can’t,” the contraction for “cannot,” is just a more informal replacement for the one-word form of “cannot.” 

  • Mom said I can’t have the car tomorrow.

 We trust that you get the difference now!  

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