"Can" vs "Can't" I can't tell the pronunciation 's difference between "can" and "can't", especially, when some English native speakers say that. Can you help me to solve out?
Jan 12, 2017 10:02 AM
Comments · 6

Do you have access to youtube? If so, you could watch this:

Although 'can' and 'can't' do have the same vowel sound in American English, and the 't' is not usually audible in everyday speech, there are other ways of understanding what the speaker intends.  Remember that 'can' and 'can't' are never heard in isolation. You have to pick up clues from what you hear and see around these words.

1. Listen to the overall stress of the sentence:

'Can' is usually reduced to a very short, weak schwa sound, so 'I can do that' will generally sound like 'I c'n do that'.

Meanwhile, 'can't' is never weakened. When someone says 'I can't do that', the word 'can't' is stressed, so you hear the full, long form of the word.

2. Context and other non-verbal clues will also help. A generally positive of negative tone of voice, together with body language and whatever other words are around the sentence ( As in 'No problem. I can do that' or 'I can't do that. I'm too busy') will usually tell you whether the sentence is positive or negative.

January 12, 2017

You aren't alone: it's often impossible even for native speakers to distinguish between the two. Often you have to guess from the context. It is easier to tell them apart in standard UK English, where the vowel sounds are different: can't rhymes with aunt, and can rhymes with man. The problem is greater in US English, where the vowel sound is the same for both, rhyming with man.

It's not your fault that you find it difficult - we all do.

January 12, 2017
I have a tip. If you catch sound "can" clearly when you are listening, it is the negative of the modal CAN ="can't" . Because in the negative form the stress falls on "can't", not on the main verb. But when you listen ,you just catch the main verb and you catch little of the sound before it. It is the positive form of "can" because the stress doesn't fall  on the modal but on the main verb.
January 12, 2017
I'm not sure if I'm right, but that's why I prefer to use "cannot" or pronounce the "t" sound in the end of "can't". To make it clear to the listener. But some things will depend on context. For example: "I'll" and "aisle" both have the same pronunciation.
January 12, 2017
Omg I've been wondering this thing for ages
January 12, 2017
Show more