[Impossibility] + [Continuous State] Expressed Together

HSS

Senior Member
Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
[impossibility] + [continuous state up to the present] expressed together

I've been meaning to write to you, but I have been so tied up that I couldn't write till today. It may be a bit odd-sounding, but could I say
[1] "I can't have written to you till today"
meaning it hasn't been possible that I write to you till today?

I'd like to incorporate a sense of impossibility and one of continuing state from the past up to now into a sentence. Can I use [1] to express that?

I've checked with some threads, but couldn't get an answer. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Best,

Hiro
 
  • AprendoSiempre

    Senior Member
    American English (NC)
    Hiro,

    "I can't have written to you till today":cross: does not sound right to me, because "can" really is the just present.

    I believe you could express that idea better with the following sentence:

    "I could not have written to you till today.":tick:

    I hope that helps :)
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I would say: "I couldn't write you until today."

    The problem with your version isn't only that it is odd-sounding but that it means something different from what you intend. "I can't have ..." usually introduces deductive reasoning as to why something is impossible:
    I can't have left my keys in the car; I haven't been out of the house all day.
    Nor does it fit well with until.
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    "I couldn't have written to you till today"
    Nor does it fit well with until.
    So, I suppose you might think 'till' would fit slightly better though it would still be better avoided. Is my supposition right, or close?

    Hiro
     
    Last edited:

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I meant that if a clause begins, "I can't have ...." it is difficult to modify it with until. (Of course, in language nothing is impossible.)

    "I couldn't have ...." presents no such problem. It works well with both until and till.
     
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