Shakespeare was right to create new words for the English language. Lacking adequate description, our words are hopelessly vague. One of our laziest representations is the word “can’t.” In the French language, there are two words to our one. Pouvoir is the direct translation you would receive from a dictionary for our word “can.” Conjugated, I can becomes je peux. I can’t becomes je ne peux pas.
However, live in France and you would find that this verb is rarely used. The direct translation of “I can’t” is reserved for things that are physically impossible, instances that truly cannot be. It is not watered down or weak, it is for direct situations where there is a physical impossibility. Continue reading