can not

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can not

Post by azz » Thu Apr 07, 2016 11:10 am

Can one say

a. You can not do it now and do it later.
b. You may not do it now and do it later.

(Meaning: You can do it later. You don't have to do it now.) ?

Can one say
c. It could happen and it could not happen.
(Meaning: It might happen and it might not happen.) ?

My feeling is that (a) works and (b) and (c) do not. For (a) to work 'can' has to be accentuated. It will still be a somewhat strange sentence, I think, but it will work. (Can you not speak for a few minutes?)

That is my take on it, but I am not sure at all. Or else, I wouldn't be asking!

Many thanks.
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Re: can not

Post by BonnieL » Thu Apr 07, 2016 4:29 pm

None of the above. And I'd spell it "cannot."

A & B - Nothing wrong with just saying, "You can do it later."

C - "Might" is better than "could."
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Re: can not

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Apr 07, 2016 6:09 pm

I think your approach is backwards. Rather than focusing on how people express a particular idea in real life, you are synthesizing what you think might be valid wordings and hoping that one or two of them actually correspond to what people say. This seems like a long-winded and unnecessarily laborious way of achieving your aim.

It would be far better to expose yourself as much as possible to the way that real people say things in real life and simply keep your ears and notebook open, or at least to pay attention to the (admittedly more artificial) dialogue that you encounter in movies and TV shows.
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Re: can not

Post by Wizard of Oz » Sat Apr 09, 2016 6:02 am

azz I don't agree with your interpretation of the sentences a & b. To me what the person, most likely a mother, is telling the person, most likely a child, is that they can't do something twice. They have to choose.

You can not do it now and do it later. >> You can not ride your bike now and ride your bike later. Your choice. When do you want to ride your bike?

I was always taught that the "may", "can" distinction was between,
can = physically possible
may = you have permission

So the sentence is, "I can do it but may I?" = I am physically able to kiss you but do I have your permission to kiss you?

WoZ who can and does
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Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

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