How do you read this?

in Chit-Chat

1,094 posts


moonweaver • 24 December 2018 at 11:45 PM

I'm just wondering how any of you would read this: He can not breath.

So like, you could say that he is able to, but he can choose not to. Or where he can't breathe even if he tried.

Imagine that this was said to you and not you reading it, reading it makes it different as, cannot vs can not van have different meanings.

1,409 posts


iris1929578 • 25 December 2018 at 12:09 AM


I would read it as:

0. There’s a spelling mistake on “breath”, it should be spelled “breathe”.

1. He can’t breathe even if he tried (if this was being said to me)
2. He can’t breathe even if he tried (if I read it, which I did)

What is the difference between “cannot” and “can not”?

1,722 posts


laylamocha • 25 December 2018 at 12:10 AM

@moonweaver Well, they have to speak slowly, and put emphasis on the word "can "

4,770 posts


newlife • 25 December 2018 at 1:39 AM

"He couldn't breathe" flows much smoother.

Alternatives, not as smooth:
"He can't breathe."
"He cannot breathe."

Overall I really like the first one more.

Can not example: "I can not just leave him there."
Overall a more sarcastic sort of vibe, more aggressive.

Cannot: "I cannot just leave him there."
More firm than the above, clearly stating the point.

1,094 posts


moonweaver • 25 December 2018 at 12:13 PM


From my thoughts, it's like can not means able to not and cannot mean you can't even if you tried. That's just my theory.

174 posts


soprano • 25 December 2018 at 7:53 PM

For me, the difference between “couldn’t” and “can’t” is that they’re used when regarding the past and present respectively.

I usually perceive that sentence as the person trying to breathe, but failing to. This is probably because breathing is something we must do in order to survive and we don’t really have a choice on whether we want to breathe or not