no can do vs count me out

mutagenix

Senior Member
Japanese
Hi :)

A question to natives. Will you use these expressions interchangeably in this context?

Tomorrow? 7 p.m.? It's no can do for me. I'm seeing my dentist then.

Tomorrow? 7 p.m.? Count me out. I'm seeing my dentist then.
 
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  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I think your versions sound reasonable and colloquial, Mutagenix. For some reason, I don't think I hear "no-can-do" as often as I used to. It might be passing out of favor.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    ... Tomorrow? 7 p.m.? Coun't me out. I'm seeing my dentist then.
    Just one comment: while many contractions such as don't, can't, and shouldn't end in "n't," many ordinary words such as paint, want, and hunt end with the same two letters. Ordinary words do not have an apostrophe, since there are no missing letters to indicate. "Count" is an ordinary word.
     

    ewhite

    Senior Member
    USA/English
    There is a difference in meaning in the two phrases. No can do implies it is impossible for me.

    Count me out may imply I do not wish to participate. I also suspect that I would use count me out only when declining participation in some kind of group activity.
     

    mutagenix

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Just one comment: while many contractions such as don't, can't, and shouldn't end in "n't," many ordinary words such as paint, want, and hunt end with the same two letters. Ordinary words do not have an apostrophe, since there are no missing letters to indicate. "Count" is an ordinary word.

    It was just a typo. Didn't notice it.


    Anyways, what other expressions would you guys use in the context under discussion? You know, things you'd say when you do not want to/can't take part in an event/a meeting. I opt out? I'm out? Only these two come to mind when I think about this.
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    If you want to attend an event but you can't, you might say Can I take a rain check? A rain check is something given when you've bought a ticket for an event that is rained out, and you can use it another time. Stores will also issue "rain checks" (so called although rain has nothing to do with it) when you try to buy an item which is on sale and the store has run out of the item. This will allow you to buy the item for the sale price when it comes back in stock, even though the sale is over.

    If someone asks you to dinner, asking for a rain check is sort of a joke and indicates that you would welcome another invitation in the future.
     

    Ezhevika

    Member
    Russian
    <<The question about "no can do" has been relocated to this thread from a thread about a different phrase in the dialogue from this same movie.>>

    Hello everybody.

    Please help me understand this dialogue. It's from the movie Lock, stock and two smoking barrels.

    A guy wants to sell weed:

    - Just give me a sample.

    - No can do.

    - What’s that? A place near Katmandu?

    "No can do" also sounds weird to me...

    (Edited by JustKate, English Only moderator)
     
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    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "No can do" means "I can't do that." The next line plays with words, interpreting "Nocandu" as a place name similar to "Katmandu."

    "Chicken soup" is being used as an equivalent of Kosher, because it's often associated with Kosher food. In slang, Kosher also means "legitimate."
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    Please help me understand this dialogue. It's from the movie Lock, stock and two smoking barrels.

    A guy wants to sell weed:

    - Just give me a sample.

    - No can do.

    - What’s that? A place near Katmandu?

    "No can do" also sounds weird to me...

    Hi, Ezhevika. Because "no can do" has come up before you asked about it, I have moved your question to one of the earlier threads. I hope the posts answer your questions, but if not, you're welcome to ask them here. :)

    JustKate
    English Only moderator
     
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    Phoebe1200

    Senior Member
    Russian-Russia
    I know that "no can do" is informal but I was wondering what the full sentence version of it is.:)
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    The full sentence would be "I cannot do it." I think "no can do" was sort of making fun of immigrants. It sounds like something someone with little English would say.
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    Thank you.:)
    But is it still OK to use "no can do" nowadays?

    Yes. It doesn't make fun of a particular group (if it ever did), and it has long been used. But remember, if someone with a foreign accent say "no can do," the listener might assume that he is saying it, not because it is a popular phrase, but because he has poor English and knows no better.
     

    Phoebe1200

    Senior Member
    Russian-Russia
    Yes. It doesn't make fun of a particular group (if it ever did), and it has long been used. But remember, if someone with a foreign accent say "no can do," the listener might assume that he is saying it, not because it is a popular phrase, but because he has poor English and knows no better.
    Thank you.:)
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    I know that "no can do" is informal but I was wondering what the full sentence version of it is.:)
    I don't think it has a "full sentence" version. In fact, it's utility comes partly from its ambiguity.

    It means something like "impossible", "not an option", or sometimes "prohibited". It is both impersonal and disrespectful, like saying "We have no choice" when choosing to do something unpleasant.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In my experience, "No can do" is not common in BrE and I'm not sure it ever was. If it were to come from the mouth of a BrE speaker, it would sound a bit forced to me - unless the speaker was James Bond, perhaps.

    I agree that "count me out" implies some degree of disapproval (post 10).
     

    MarianaSE

    New Member
    Spanish - Buenos Aires, Argentina
    I've just come across this expression in the movie The Sense of an Ending, and I thought it was as weird as 'long time no see'.
     
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