Pronunciation: Can and Can’t

by | Jun 10, 2024

Pronunciation: Can and Can’t –

This video lesson will help you recognize the difference between can and can’t in American English conversation. 

Remember that can is usually a structure word:  It is often unstressed in a sentence, with a reduced vowel sound.

On the other hand, can’t is usually a focus word: It has a clear vowel sound and gets more stress than other words.

If you heard a vowel, you probably heard “can’t.”  If you didn’t hear a vowel, you probably heard “can.”

Thanks for watching this pronunciation guide!

A great resource for understanding how focus words and structure words work within American English sentences is Clear Speech by Judy Gilbert (available on Amazon)

Also, be sure to check out some of my other posts for English Language Learners


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Can and Can't in American English Pronunciation


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Mark Pedrin

Mark Pedrin


Mark is an English instructor and communication specialist. He loves helping people develop language skill and insight so that they can reach their personal and professional goals.