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Posted by John on Wednesday, July 9, 2008 at 5:24pm.

1. I can swim very well.
2. I can't swim very well.

How can we distinguish 'can' from 'can't'? How do we pronounce 'can'?


English - Ms. Sue, Wednesday, July 9, 2008 at 5:35pm
To hear the pronunciation, go to this site and click on the loudspeaker symbol.

We can usually distinguish between can and can't because we emphasize CAN'T, making sure we pronounce the "t."

Thank you for your help.

3. I can do it.
4. I can't do it.

I know that the t sound in 'can't' is dropped in normal speech. Then how do we distinguish #3 and #4?

  • English -

    It's harder to distinguish "can't do" since the "t" and "d" are so close.

    The context of these sentences is important. Usually, they are said in the midst of other statements about the task. Tone of voice often tells us whether the statement is positive or negative. We often emphasize the "can" or "can't" when speaking.

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