Yesterday evening I posted the following 10 expressions with the modal verb “can’t” on my Facebook Page and thought that it would be a good idea to share them here with you.

In English grammar the modal verb “can” and its opposite “cannot or can’t” is explained as a verb that we use to describe ability or the lack of it. For example, I can play tennis or I cannot swim.
In question form it can be used to ask permission, for example, “Can I leave early today?” or as a challenge – “Why can’t I have another biscuit?”

Can’t (or cannot) is also used with some verbs to create idiomatic expressions and are widely used by native English speakers. Here are the 10 expressions I posted yesterday:

1. can’t wait – to be excited about something

Photo: www.explodingdog.com

Photo: www.explodingdog.com

Ex: I can’t wait to see my friends next week. It’s going to be wonderful.

2. can’t stand – to strongly dislike something
Ex: I can’t stand the traffic in London.

3. can’t bear – to strongly dislike something because it makes you unhappy
Ex: She can’t bear to be away from her family longer than a week.

4. can’t take it – cannot tolerate something
Ex: I can’t take his constant shouting anymore. I have to leave.

5. can’t be bothered – to have no interest in something

Ex: I know I should go for a run but I can’t be bothered tonight.

6. can’t take my eyes off her/him – to be attracted to someone
Ex: Simon can’t seem to take his eyes off the new Marketing assistant.

7. can’t win – life is difficult
Ex: Sometimes no matter what you do in life, you can’t win.

8. can’t help it – to have no control over something
Can't help falling in loveEx: I can’t help it, I find chocolate digestives irresistible!

9. can’t think straight – cannot concentrate
Ex: I am so tired that I can’t think straight.

10. can’t hear myself think – cannot concentrate

Ex: There is so much noise here that I can’t hear myself think.

Do you know any other idiomatic expressions with “can’t” that I’ve missed out? Do you have similar expressions in your language? Try using these expressions in your written and spoken English.

I hope you found the post useful. Please share it if you did. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss out on my posts.

Ciao for now.


STOP PRESS: I have just been given another idiomatic expression by another trainer (thanks Liz Martin).

11. Can’t for the life of me + verb – not at all
Ex: can’t for the life of me remember where I put the keys to the car.

AND here are two more idiomatic expressions courtesy of another reader, Valentina Altman.

12. Can’t get you out of my mind/head – can’t stop thinking about you
Ex: “I just can’t get you out of my head” as sung by Kylie Minogue

13. Can’t get enough of something or someone – you want more of something or someone
Ex: I love this champagne! I can’t get enough of it.

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