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September 29, 2020
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This makes me sad. 'Cannot' may have been the most common in the UK in 2011, when this blog began, but it certainly wasn't common in Canada at that point. What I would like to know is who randomly decided to make one modal into a compound word, then try to tell us that was the only correct way to write it. : (We 'donot' write 'maynot' or 'willnot' or 'shouldnot', so why on earth would we start writing 'cannot'? We already have a perfectly good contraction with 'not' for each of these modals, so I see no reason they need to form compound words.For those of us who went to school before the year 2000, and for anyone who reads books published more than 10 years ago, 'cannot' just looks ridiculous. It may be more common online, but you must have noticed that every error under the sun is more common online. I would argue that usage on Google 'shouldnot' be the ultimate measure for good, accurate, English grammar and spelling. As an English teacher, I realize that language changes naturally over time, but this does not seem like a natural change to me. It seems very forced, as if someone decided to create the change and then manipulate everyone else into following suit. I also resent suddenly being told that the traditional spelling is wrong. : ( Dbfreak, please don't criticize magazines for following the rules of correct usage just because they're not Google approved or "up to date". I am currently trying to find the source of this change, if possible, since it was not something I ever saw until a few years ago. If 'cannot' is an acceptable spelling of 'can not', it certainly would not have any difference in meaning, other than in situations where 'can't' would not make sense. The word 'cannot is exactly the same usage as can't in that case. If the reason for writing 'cannot' is because of pronunciation, then 'gonna', 'd'ye wanna', and 'I gotta' would be equally valid. Fact is, in English, we only pronounce one syllable clearly, with quite regular rhythm, every few words, so basing spelling on verbal use is impossible without completely losing the original words. Sorry for ranting. I just grew up with a grammar nazi, and have taught English for over 20 years, and I'm not a great fan of upstart spellings trying to push me around. ; )
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