Re: 'can not' vs 'cannot'... the rant cometh

Subject: Re: 'can not' vs 'cannot'... the rant cometh
From: Bryan Sherman <bsherm -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2005 07:59:31 -0500

I *think* this was bounced the first time, so let me try again:

Unfortunately, dictionaries are not always as authoritative as you
suggest. Ironically in the 11th edition of M-W Collegiate dictionary
they define "Cannot" as "can not". (see

Can I suggest an approach. Do not make it about Right and Wrong, but
about clarity. If your approach attacks someone's use as incorrect,
their first inclination is to defend. If your approach is suggesting a
way to make it clearer, for example pointing out that cannot is the
more common usage, and the potential that others will misunderstand
can not, then they may be less defensive.

Sure they *should* defer to your sphere of expertise, but reality
doesn't work that way.

On Wed, 23 Feb 2005 16:33:05 -0500, Wright, Lynne
<lwright -at- positron911 -dot- com> wrote:
> If these guys want authoritative proof that 'cannot' is correct, open
> the DICTIONARY and show them that "cannot" is the word to use when you
> can't do something. And by the way... the entry in Webster's doesn't
> include "can not" as a variation... which it WOULD include, if it were
> an acceptable usage. This is the beauty of a DICTIONARY... its compiled
> by language EXPERTS doing rigorous research. IT is the primary guide to
> words in the English language... not Microsoft's spell checker, and not
> a pair of guys who have probably not opened a dictionary since they
> first laid eyes on one and decided it was too heavy and bothersome to
> use, so they'd just go with their "feelings" instead.


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'can not' vs 'cannot'... the rant cometh: From: Wright, Lynne

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