Cannot or can not?

I don’t know why you’re trying to make this so complicated. Your first sentence is fine and your second sentence is wrong - “cannot” is a word but “mustnot” isn’t. That’s just how the language evolved. It might not be logical that it’s this way, but that is how it is.

maybe is a word, but why willbe is not a word?

No why. Please don’t encourage OP. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

But “maybe” is an adverb and can’t be used in contexts such as “I maybe able to attend”.


Because will be doesn’t cause confusion.
Cannot negates whatever you say after.
Can means having the ability or choice to.
Can not means you have the choice not to, which is different from “cannot”.

Maybe and may be a similar case.
You may be right. = Maybe you’re right.
Now if you make the latter into “may be”, youll get “may be you’re right”. Now there’s two verbs in a sentence and the subject is confusing.
If you make “you may be right” into “you maybe right” there will be no verb at all.

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Canbe and can be could be a similar case.
You can be right. = Canbe you’re right.
Now if you make the latter into “can be”, youll get “can be you’re right”. Now there’s two verbs in a sentence and the subject is confusing.
If you make “you can be right” into “you canbe right” there will be no verb at all.


Your assumption is that I don’t know that languages evolve, and not always logical in a mathematical sense, something I have been drilling into my students for ever! I was simply going by the logic that you presented to explain the different functionality of each word(s), and extending it to another modal. Because if it were common or accepted to use mustnot (and it’s not) then it would be a word and your logic would apply to it. There are no circumstances that would be confusing to me if I only ever used “can not” in every situation for the very simple reason that the spoken versions are indistinguishable but perfectly understandable in all cases. In spoken language nuances in meaning are conveyed by tone or inflection and pause and in written form from context.

Did you just make up the word trying to win this? :joy:

May be and maybe has essentially different meaning. May describes the verb “be”, while maybe is describing the verb/situation in the sentence. It’s like among and amongst. The result might be the same, but it gives a different vibe.

And if we were to proceed with “can be” and “canbe” … gosh this is exhausting. We should start with how language is formed. Usually there’s a speaking language before the writing system. And so, if in the speech “can be” and “canbe” has no difference, it wouldn’t be necessary to have two kinds of expressions there. You can tell from speech that “maybe” and “may be” is placed at different locations in a sentence. But there’s only one way to use the sound “can be”, one word or another.

As for “cannot” and “can not”, althoug they might sound similar in speech, they’re not. In real life scenarios we could gather info from context, facial expression, body signs, voice, etc. we could usually tell if it’s “cannot” or “can not”. I guess the person who established this writing system find necessary to distinguish the two. Or perhaps they got the idea from another language, ie Latin.

It is an established universal rule? I have though cannot can be replaced with can not, and I am sure I saw “can not” many times that should be cannot, if it is a rule.

You’d also need to take the public into consideration. Language is for communication. Logical or not the purpose is to convey the message with less confusion as possible. There’s no such a thing as a harsh line in social science. Not that I’m aware of. Long time no see is ungrammatical, but it works. Now that people have established a way to communicate with “can not” and “cannot”, why try to make it more confusing by arguing the logic? It’s fun to discuss, but I don’t see the necessity to intentionally mix them together.

As for must not. It’s not as confusing as “cannot” and “can not”.
You mustn’t do that. => Dont do it.
You must “not do that”. => don’t do it

None of this is “my logic”. I just described what the standard version is, to my understanding, for the written language - “cannot” is almost always the preferred version except when the “not” is part of something else.

I don’t think “cannot” and “can not” are indistinguishable in spoken language either - there would usually be a pause between the two syllables in the latter case to make the meaning clear. If you’re adding a pause or space to “cannot” when you shouldn’t be, go ahead, but I would say that’s non-standard.

I still don’t really know what your point is here.

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DON’T use can not when you mean cannot. The only time you’re likely to see can not written as separate words is when the word “can” happens to precede some other phrase that happens to start with “not”

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No rule is universal.

It could be a typo like how I like to use “tho” instead of “though”. It could be that the language is actually changing within the younger. It could be anything else.

The journals usually have a stricter grammar. Perhaps you can check if there’s more “cannot” or “can not” , and what they means. I could only give you examples form my own experience. “I can not help you, you know?” And “I cannot help you.” You can tell the difference in real life when you encounter these sentences.

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Whole in my life, I’ve written “can not”…

Except for the rule that no rule is universal.


You got me there :joy:

May I ask where you’re from? I thought this would be taught in a US school, but I’ve never been educated there.

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me neither, except for ESL class

I would’ve thought that they teach it there :thinking:

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