student asking question

Can I say "I can't see anybody" instead of "I don't see anybody"?


Native speaker’s answer


Remember that there is a difference between "don't" and "can't," as "can't" often carries the connotation of not having the ability or skill to do something, whereas "don't" implies that one has the ability or skill to do it but can't for some reason. In this case, nothing is impeding the speaker's sight, but he still does not see anyone. In informal situations like in this video, "can't" is used interchangeably with "don't" to mean the same thing, but the latter is more preferable and accurate. Ex: I can't drive a car as I never learnt how to. (Does not have the ability) Ex: I don't drive a car because I don't have my license expired. (Has the ability, but another reason prevents the doing of something)

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