Words Students Confuse: cannot and won't

ScottsEnglishScottsEnglish Administrator Posts: 1,163 admin ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
Students often have difficulty with can + not, which becomes one word, cannot. They also have difficulty with the contracted form of will + not, which invariably becomes won't.

Can and will  are modal verbs, like should or may. On the one hand, they are easy to use because they only have two forms: a present form, can or will; and a past form, could or would.

But, unlike the other modal verbs, the negative form of can is cannot.  In contrast, the negative form of should is "should not" (or shouldn't); and the negative form of may is "may not" (mayn't does not exist). The negative form of will is will not, but the contracted form is irregular, won't.

When you are speaking, either say, "I will not be able to go", or "I won't be able to go."

And when you are writing, be sure to write "I should not go to the party because it is too late at night, and my parents say that I cannot go."
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