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Hi

I sometimes have difficulty distinguishing can from can't in AmE. This doesn't happen in BrE. To me, the t sound in can't is often so silent which makes it hard for me to tell the two words apart. On the other hand, the n sound in can't seems to be a bit prolonged in comparison to the n in can so this could be an indication of what is actually spoken.

What do you think?
Comments  
That's probably because in BrE they are usually pronounced /kæn and kɑnt/, while in AmE this becomes /kæn and /kænt. What to say? Listen carefully. Emotion: smile I have the feeling that theæ is a bit longer in can't, but I'm not certain.
I meant the a sound not n.
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focus on which word has been stressed.
I can do it ,,, I k'n do it stress the verb. it's k'n , not kæn
I can't do it ,,, I kænt do it stress both.

I can do it ,,, when you want to emphasis "can" .I kææn do it. æ is longer than usual.

I can't do it ,,,when you want to emphasis "can't". I kænt do it. æ is short and fast.
this is what I know,native-speakers back me up here,Am I right?
Yeah, you need to pay attention to stress, context, vowel quality, and maybe vowel length sometimes. I wouldn't take the /t/ sound into account in connected speech. I don't expect to hear any /t/ sound, because it's usually left out anyway (as in "innerstate, cenner, twenny").
CAN is usually pronounced /kən/and it's not stressed. The verb is stressed.

You can do it!

CAN'T is usually pronounced /kæn(t)/ and it's usually stressed together with the verb.

You can't do it!

That's what I learned.
Actually, there have been many, many times in my life when I (a native speaker) have had to ask the person speaking (also a native speaker) to clarify whether he or she just said "can" or "can't."

Sorry, did you say can or cannot? (Even though I know it was "can't" and not "cannot" that makes it clear what I'm asking.)

You're not alone.
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Grammar GeekActually, there have been many, many times in my life when I (a native speaker) have had to ask the person speaking (also a native speaker) to clarify whether he or she just said "can" or "can't."
I think in most American dialects it might be impossible to distinguish them when they are stressed, since they are both pronounced with the same vowel, /kæn/:
You can do it? No way, you can't do it!
You can't do it? No way, you can do it!

Barb, when you can't distinguish them and you have to ask the other person to clarify what they mean, does it happen because you yourself wouldn't be able to distinguish them in your own speech in the same context, or because the other speaker has a different accent than your own? I'm not sure if this question is clear enough, but I am not able to make it simpler, lol.
You got the answer. The cluster /nt/ assimilates to /n/: tweny for twenty, etc.

nt > nd > nn > n

nt > nd is called nasal flapping.

mb > m bomb, tomb, succumb, lamb, plumb

ŋg > ŋ, the so-called /g/ dropping
Sandy Hofocus on which word has been stressed.
I can do it ,,, I k'n do it stress the verb. it's k'n , not kæn
I can't do it ,,, I kænt do it stress both.
I can do it ,,, when you want to emphasis "can" .I kææn do it. æ is longer than usual.

I can't do it ,,,when you want to emphasis "can't". I kænt do it. æ is short and fast.
this is what I know,native-speakers back me up here,Am I right?

Right. I'd go so far as to say that unstressed can is pronounced kin, or very close to it. The stress patterns you showed are correct. The n in can't is "cut off" by the hint of a t (made by moving the tongue as if you were going to say a t). The n in can is "normal". So I'd say that if you hear a sort of sudden interruption before the word that follows, it's can't, not can. And if you hear a sort of continuous flow into the word that follows, it's can, not can't.

CJ
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