Thursday, September 29, 2011
"Cannot" vs. "can not"
Recently a reader emailed me the following inquiry:
I shared "The Leaf Catcher" with some colleagues yesterday. One thing we found interesting is your use of "can not" instead of the compound form "cannot." I interpreted your choice as a means of emphasis on the "not," but now I am just curious, Why did you choose to write it this way?
This is an often debated topic, but after much research I found that the quick and dirty answer is that "cannot" and "can not" can be used interchangeably, and it doesn't matter which form you use. But the reader was correct in their interpretation in that I choose to use "can not" to emphasize the "not."
As a side note, when I did a word search on the manuscript for "The Leaf Catcher" to find the occurrences of "not" I was amazed at how many times the word shows up throughout the story! Then I thought about it, and it made perfect sense. Of course the word "not" should be seen throughout a story that deals with negativity. The challenge in the beginning of the book is, "Can you go just one day without thinking a negative thought?" The sad truth is that you "can not," but you also "can not" let that stop you from noticing when you are letting negative thoughts get the better of you and trying to counter them with a positive attitude. Therefore, "not" can be used in a negative or positive sense depending on the context. And it is our perception and attitude that will determine which context we choose to use "not" in our affirmations.