On What It Means When I Say “I Can’t”

The term “I can’t” has taken on multiple meanings. Many people nowadays use the term to mean things like: “I don’t want to,” “I actually can, but it is difficult,” and the new standby “ugh, I can’t even…”

So let’s start from the beginning.

Despite modern colloquialisms, the word “can” has a very simple but specific definition: v. to be able to.

And, according to the grammar rules of the English language, adding the word “not” to an auxiliary verb negates it.

By sticking the word “not” at the end of “can,” we get “can not,” or “cannot,” or “can’t.” The “not” negates the “can” and thus the meaning of “can’t” is: not to be able to.

It’s really quite simple. I really don’t know why it is so difficult for the majority of people I encounter to grasp the concept of “can’t.”

I honestly don’t know how to say it any other way.

When I say, “I can’t,” it means, literally, I fucking can’t.

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