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Cannot vs. can not: "You can not only sing but also dance very well"

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Jin akashini, Apr 3, 2013.

  1. Jin akashini Senior Member

    vietnamese
    Hi every one,
    I want to ask you about the grammar "not only...but also" when we use it with verb "can". I want to ask that whether the below sentence is correct when in use "not only..but also" and "can" in this way: "You can not only sing but also dance very well". The sentence seems strange when I search Google result.
    Thank you very much.
     
  2. Elisa Pessoa Senior Member

    Portuguese
    You cannot* only sing, but also dance very well. :tick: (= Not only can you sing, but you can also dance.)

    (*This should be the right spelling)
     
  3. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English - US (Midwest)
    The sentence is fine, though I would put a comma after "sing." Since it is "You can [not only sing] [but also dance very well]," using "cannot" would be incorrect.
     
  4. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Sorry, Elisa. This is one of those cases when the spelling must be "can not", as RM has very clearly represented by means of brackets.

    GS
     
  5. Elisa Pessoa Senior Member

    Portuguese
    Hi guys, :)

    You're absolutely right. Shame on me! That was my hypercorrection speaking. Sorry, Jin!
     
  6. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    You have a very interesting post here, and I would like to ask a question related to this strange but logical input. So, you are saying that 'can' + 'not only ... but also' should be written 'can not only + vb ... but also + verb' because it is not about negating the modal 'can' but it is just the use of the set phrase 'not only ... but also'. Wouldn't this be then considered / viewed as an exception of the rule, and wouldn't it be emphasized like this: 'cannot vs can not ...'? 'Cannot' generally spells this way but there is an exception (I do not know if there can be found more) when we spell it 'can not + only' ?
    I did not see this anywhere.
    Thank you,
     

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