+0
When watching American dramas, I have trouble distinguishing between "can't" and "can".
How are they different in terms of pronunciation?
I sometimes can guess from the context, but when people say something like " I can't not go", I will be very confused and have to look at the subtitle.

Thanks so answering
1 2
Comments  
ChristanfordWhen watching American dramas, I have trouble distinguishing between "can't" and "can".
How are they different in terms of pronunciation?
I sometimes can guess from the context, but when people say something like " I can't not go", I will be very confused and have to look at the subtitle.

Thanks so answering
Hi. So, according the British rules it isn't correct to use can't, there is only cannot. And pronunciation of it is "cAn", i guess you understand me. it is incomprehensible phrase which is in bold. there is no double negation in English grammar. The pronunciation is concerning - listen to conversations more attentive, I suppose there is no way to understand. And there is no need to catch every word when you're watching the film, try to understand sense in generally. It's my own opinion. Good luck
Hi Christanford,

The problem here is that General American uses the same vowel sound for "can" and "can't". Word-final English /t/ is sometimes not audibly released, which sometimes makes the two words sound virtually identical.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Hi,
according the British rules it isn't correct to use can't, there is only cannot.
This is not accurate. Most Britons use the contracted form "can't" in rapid and informal speech. The British pronunciation differs somewhat between different British accents, the RP norm is /kɑ ː nt/.
there is no double negation in English grammar.
I would agree that double negation in English is non-standard in all its native-speaker varieties, but it would be wrong to claim that it does not exist in English grammar as it is certainly used by a number of native and non-native speakers.
Hi,

I can go. = I cun go - can is not stressed and is pronunced with a schwa
I can't go. = I can go
I can. = I can
I can't. = I can(t) - it depends how much that final t is pronounced.

In the last case, I usually pronounce the final T a little, to make a distinction. Otherwise, when it's not pronounced (by some people in some cases), the difference between I can! and I can't!is basically... no difference. Emotion: smile
Thanks so much. I think I've got it now.
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
can (followed by another word) can sound almost like kin, or partway between kin and kun, with a full n on the end.
can't (followed by another word) can sound almost like kan with the final n clipped short by placing the tongue in position to say t, but not really saying the t, at least not completely. Detecting the comparatively clipped sound of can't is how you know it's can't, and not can. (The same clipped sound occurs at the end of don't and won't and similar words, by the way.)

Further, can is normally relatively unstressed, and can't is normally relatively stressed. The vertical bar shows the clipping of the nt.

I can see it. = ikinSEE'it.
I can't see it. = iKAN'| (t)SEE'it.

(In this case the t somewhat attaches to see, as if there were two words, thus: kan tsee.)
____________

I can't not go is a different situation. This is more of a semantics problem than a pronunciation problem. Strictly speaking, this is not a double negative, because the two negatives negate two different verbs. One negative applies to the ability or possibility of can; the other negative applies to the action of going.

The meaning is, "It's not possible for me not to go", or more simply, "I have to go". That is, "People are expecting me to go. I must live up to their expectations." Here it's likely you'll hear three stressed syllables in succession, perhaps with not a little less stressed:

iKAN|(t)'NO|(t)'GO'.

CJ
Hi CJ,

Then how would you say this:
Run, run as fast as you can!
Would you stress the "can" in this sentence?
Yes, I would stress the final can. (KAN)
This is the way to do it for a final can that represents can and another verb.

In this case, can represents can run.

(Run as fast as you can run would have unstressed kin/kun -- kinRUN.)

CJ
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Show more