can't / mustn't

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sevengem

Senior Member
Chinese
Do they mean the same? Like,

You ____ eat them until you are sure they are not poisonous.

can't or mustn't or both?
 
  • The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    There's a slight difference. "Can't" suggests you won't be able to eat them (until etc.); "won't" that you should not eat them (until etc.). But we often use "can't" to mean "mustn't."
     

    analeeh

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    'Can't' can also mean 'not allowed to' or 'not permitted to' (despite schoolteachers' objections).
     

    sevengem

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I think 'can't' is unlikely here.

    We are talking of mortal danger, and 'mustn't' gives much more of a sense that it is imperative that you don't.

    'Can't' suggests more that they wouldn't be very tasty, which is not the point at all.
    But I can't see why "can't" suggests they wouldn't be tasty.
     
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