can’t vs mustn’t

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wangqh2696122

Senior Member
Chinese
What's the difference between can't and mustn't? Are both ok in the following sentence? Thank you!
You mustn’t/ can't take heavy clothes when you go to Bangkok where temperatures are very hot all the year round.
 
  • kool-wind

    Senior Member
    British English
    I would use 'shouldn't' or 'needn't' (that is, without re-writing the whole sentence).

    'Mustn't' sounds like an order, and I think a suggestion is intended.
    'Can't' is either expressing surprise or an impossibility.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I think they're both wrong here.

    "Mustn't" means that something is forbidden, against the law, against your religion, or something like that. You may not need heavy clothes in Bangkok, but if you have them with you for a different part of your trip, there is no reason why you must leave them outside the city.

    "Can't" means you are not able to do something. People are able to take heavy clothes to Bangkok; they just won't have any use for them there.

    I would use "shouldn't," or perhaps "don't need to." Both of these are milder.
     

    wangqh2696122

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    'Can't' is either expressing surprise or an impossibility.[/QUOTE]

    I feel can't is ok. Now look at Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English:

    【SHOULD NOT】 [in questions and negatives]
    used to say that someone should not or must not do something
     
    You can't expect the world to change overnight.
     
    We can't go on like this.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    You are trying to link files from your computer to this site: this is not possible.
     

    kool-wind

    Senior Member
    British English
    1) "You can't expect the world to change overnight", and
    2)"You can't take heavy clothes to Bangkok" are not at all equivalent uses of "can't"

    In 1) it means 'you shouldn't' and in 2) it means 'you are not able to'.
     
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