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Andrew

I am not sure I understand your response here. I understand the trend towards first syllable stress, but why stick the words together in the first place? We don't write "donot," for example?
Isn't there any reference that we might consult on this question?
Andrew

Anna

Hi, I come here again. Hah
I think “cannot” is more polite and more common. When I studied in middle school in China, my English teacher told me “cannot” is more formal that is better than “can not”in English writing.

Nick

"cannot" refers to the inability to do something.

"can not" refers to the ability not do do something if one so chooses.

"Can not" is frequently seen used incorrectly (as cannot) in publications such as the The Guardian, which really ought to know better.

BoggyWoggy

Well, to add to the discussion, consider this: "can" is a positive. "Not" is a negative. It actually seems quite odd to consider that people can NOT do things. Instead, it might be better to say, "I am not capable," yet, once again, "am" and "not" contridict one another...

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