Re: cannot vs. can not

Subject: Re: cannot vs. can not
From: Owen Clancy <clancy -at- CABOOLTURE -dot- NET -dot- AU>
Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 20:30:13 +1000

-----Original Message-----
From: Elaine Malfas [SMTP:ecmalfas -at- LVP -dot- COM]
Sent: Wednesday, 12 May 1999 6:47
To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
Subject: Re: cannot vs. can not

My 2 cents:

The Associate Press Stylebook lists "cannot" as acceptable. It is also
listed in the Webster's New World Compact Desk Dictionary as "cannot."

IMHO "can not" is awkward to read because it induces a pause.

--Elaine

"Can not" could also introduce ambiguity. If I say "You cannot fly there"
that connotes an unambiguous meaning about the relationship between you and
flying there- you are unable, unwilling or not allowed to do it. However,
if I say "You can not fly there", what does that mean? Am I saying that you
can choose to fly there or not to fly there, or am I saying that you are
not allowed to fly there?

Owen Clancy


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