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1. He cannot speak English.

2. He can not speak English.

3. Can he speak English? No, he cannot.

4. Can he speak English? No, he can not.

It is said that #1, #2 & #4 are acceptable, but that #3 is not acceptable. Why?

Can I say when not is stressed, can not should not be written as cannot?

Thanks very much for your reply.
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Comments  
"Can not" is never correct; it's either "can't" or "cannot".
Pieanne
"Can not" is never correct; it's either "can't" or "cannot".I've no idea why it never came up before in my education as a native speaker of English in the U.S., but I didn't reallize that 'can not' is unacceptable until I was well into my adult years. Spoken English, of course, doesn't reveal that it's a single word, and I do not avoid contractions when I write. 'Tis a mystery.

And I still don't understand why it isn't considered correct. Just one of those things, I guess. Perhaps you learned something along the way while you were learning Enlgish that gave an explanation?
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Sorry, no... !

Yet, I could imagine some extreme examples, perhaps related to the "the la Tourrettes" disease (it's just been mentioned somewhere today in the English Forums) where one could say "I can not say *** three times in a row", but the negation here doesn't refer to can. It means "I'm able not to say *** 3 times in a row".
Pieanne
"Can not" is never correct; it's either "can't" or "cannot".

Cannot is most commonly used as the negative form, but can not is also sometimes used.

(page 256, A Communicative Grammar of English, Pearson Education Limited 2002)
Thanks! Such post is very helpful to me and to others I suppose.
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Can I say when not is stressed, can not should not be written as cannot?

My understanding of the two is that "can not" is an emphatic form of "cannot." But I like the way you express it.

Ikia
Pieanne"Can not" is never correct; it's either "can't" or "cannot".

." The only context in which can not, two words, occurs is as an emphatic alternative: "You can do it, or you can not do it." In that case, it is clearly two separately spoken words, with the not given special emphasis, and equally clearly it means something very different from cannot, namely "have the option of not (doing something)."
IkiaCan I say when not is stressed, can not should not be written as cannot?

My understanding of the two is that "can not" is an emphatic form of "cannot." But I like the way you express it.

Ikia

Exactly!

Let me quote a passage from A Communicative Grammar of English, Pearson Education Limited 2002 (page 234): Such phrases cannot come before a noun as a head. We can NOT ...

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