Can versus can't

Hello, happy new year, I've noticed that native english speaker using ''can'' and ''can't'' with the same pronunciation, how can I understand this and use as well.


Dec 31, 2015 2:41 PM
Comments · 4

I have a London accent so I don't have this problem!  However, here are some ideas:


a) pay attention to the context - which one makes more sense?

b) what is the feeling? positive or negative?

c) try to identify the /t/ sound at the end - sometimes it is like the airflow has suddenly stopped in the throat



December 31, 2015

Don't worry if someone speaks fast and you can't hear exactly if it's supposed to be <em>can </em>or <em>can't. </em>It's normal to ask people to repeat and emphasize on which word they're saying.


I agree with Stephanie. If you're familiar with IPA, I usually hear <em>can </em>being spoken with the ə sound (like the 'a' in 'about') in American English. <em>Can't </em>sounds more like the word <em>can </em>(the tin container, not the verb) or <em>tan</em>.

December 31, 2015
I understand your trouble, Rene.  Even as native speakers, sometimes we still need to clarify.  I hope I can help a little.  As an auxiliary verb, in the affirmative, it is generally not emphasized or stressed. Unstressed, it will sound like /kin/ in a sentence spoken at normal speed. "I can help  you with that" here "can" will sound like /kin/ with a very soft pronunciation of the n.  Before a vowel you may hear the n link with the next word as in "I can understand you."   However, in the negative, you will hear more of the -an, and it will sound longer.  "I can't help you".  But you will still not hear the -t clearly until the verb precedes a vowel as in this example: I can't understand you.  I hope this helps. 
December 31, 2015

for can: a little bit longer, a little smoother, versus can't, can't: a little shorter, a little bit more abrupt ;

December 31, 2015