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Thread: Cannot, can not & can not only - when to use each

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    Cannot, can not & can not only - when to use each

    This topic came up on one of the other forums during a correction and I thought it might be useful to post the U.S. rule here.

    If anyone has any other rules regarding this, please post them as well.

    Here is the passage from the Writer's Guide to Style and Usage, p.43) regarding cannot, can not and can not only:

    "Cannot, can not, can not only. Cannot is the preferred form except for the rare instance when a writer wishes to emphasize the not, for example, in juxtaposition to can statements: 'You can run and you can hide, but you can not escape me.' When can not only is used, the trick is to remember that not is working with only as a conjunction; can is an auxiliary that must be parallel with the rest of the statement: 'The restaurant can not only serve a delectable lasagna, but also [can] bake [not bakes] a sinful chocolate cake.' "
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    Re: Cannot, can not & can not only - when to use each

    It's not important because it is semantics at this point in the English Language. Simply a topic for Grammar Nazis. Whether wrong or right, most people use them interchangeably.
    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_diffe ... nd_can_not
    http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/ ... ing/cannot
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    Re: Cannot, can not & can not only - when to use each

    Quote Originally Posted by DDT
    It's not important because it is semantics at this point in the English Language. Simply a topic for Grammar Nazis. Whether wrong or right, most people use them interchangeably.
    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_diffe ... nd_can_not
    http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/ ... ing/cannot
    Dear DDT,

    I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the honor you have bestowed upon me and I am forwarding your email to all of my former high school and college English professors so they may learn of this great news!

    If you have read some of my other posts you will undoubtedly know how surprised I was to receive this award from you and I will wear the crown of ‘Grammar Nazi’ with pride.

    Now regarding the references that you cited, the second one so eloquently explains exactly the differences between cannot and can not. "You would use can not when the 'not' forms part of another construction such as 'not only' -
    Thank you for selecting that particular reference, you are a prince among men.
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    Re: Cannot, can not & can not only - when to use each

    DDT is just in bad mood today.
    «И всё, что сейчас происходит внутре — тоже является частью вселенной».

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    Re: Cannot, can not & can not only - when to use each

    Quote Originally Posted by DDT
    It's not important because it is semantics at this point in the English Language. Simply a topic for Grammar Nazis. Whether wrong or right, most people use them interchangeably.
    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_diffe ... nd_can_not
    http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/ ... ing/cannot
    Rubbish. Most people use "can't".

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