didn't or can't have?

raymondaliasapollyon

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

I saw the following sentence and was wondering why "didn't work" is incorrect if it replaces "can't have worked":


She got a terrible mark in the exam so she can't have worked very hard at all.

I'd appreciate your help.
 
Last edited:
  • Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    It is a valid sentence it just means something different :
    she can't have worked - her not working must be the reason (for not doing well)
    she didn't work - she didn't work after the exam because of her low mark
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    Hi,

    I saw the following sentence and was wondering why "didn't work" is incorrect if it replaces "can't have worked":


    He got a terrible mark in the exam so she can't have worked very hard at all.

    I'd appreciate your help.
    To me, in this example "can't have worked" carries a slightly different nuance of meaning than "didn't work." Assuming that you made an error and that "he" and "she" are referring to the same person, it seems to me that if you wanted to use "didn't" you would have to say something like:

    She got a terrible mark in the exam so she evidently did not work very hard at all.

    She got a terrible mark in the exam so she clearly didn't work very hard at all.
     
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