30 days of English course – can’t vs can – day 6

What’s up guys!

What a beautiful day! Time to leave your work behind and explore the English language with me.Today is day 6.

Today, we’re going to talk about the difference between can and can’t in pronunciation. How to hear it, how to day it.

I’ve asked a lot of my students to tell me the difference between the two, they all said that can is pronounced  /kæn/ and can’t, on the other hand, is pronounced /kænt/, but there’s a bit of problem. We can’t rely on hearing ‘t’-a good t sound. Because most Americans when they’re speaking  everyday speech, they just don’t say ‘t’ at the end of the word can’t. 


In American English pronunciation, can is typically pronounce  /kən/. They di-stress this word, the word often reduces and it changes into the schwa sound.

For example:

  • I /kən/ kiss her
  • She /kən/ do it without her boyfriend
  • He /kən/ cry anytime


Can’t, on the other hand, sounds like  /kæn/

Can sounds like /kən/ and can’t sounds like /kæn/. This is quite crazy, huh?

For example:

  • I can’t go
  • She can’t do it alone
  • Your mother can’t do it to me

But here’re another problem. If I ask “can you do it?”, are you going to say “I can /kən/” or “I can /kæn/ if you answer is yes?

John: hey, can you do it?


  • I can
  • I can’t

In this case, what’s the difference between the two when you can’t say “I /kən/”?

Here’s the key, when you say ‘CAN’, it’s a little bit longer, a little bit smoother and really relaxed, but you say ‘CAN’T’, the stop t of can’t chops it, makes it a little be shorter, a little bit more abrupt. This might be something that is quite difficult to distinguish for you, but if you listen to English every day , it’ll help you develop an ear for this.

Click on the link below to hear and practice the difference between the words.

That’s it. Hope this has helped.

Have a fabulous day!






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