10 English Phrases with CAN’T


Everyday English Speaking Course

#1 – “Jeff wants to sing in the church choir, but he can’t carry a tune.”

Someone who can’t carry a tune has no musical ability; they can’t sing a simple melody correctly.

#2 – “I can’t be bothered to keep up with the latest TV shows. TV is a waste of time, anyway.”

If you can’t be bothered to do something, it means you have no time or interest to do it. It is not important enough for your attention.

#3 – “I can’t tell the difference between these two types of rice.”

The expression can’t tell means “can’t perceive/observe.” We often use it in the phrases:

  • can’t tell the difference between (two similar things)
  • can’t tell if/whether (something is the case or not)
    Ex) “I can’t tell if he’s serious or not.”

#4 – “I can’t get enough of these cookies. They’re delicious!”

If you can’t get enough of something, it means you want more and more of it.

#5 – “My kids can’t wait to go to Disney World this summer.”

The expression can’t wait means you are very eager and excited for something to happen in the future.

#6 – “I can’t stand it when people are late to appointments. It’s so inconsiderate.”

If you can’t stand something, it means it really annoys or irritates you; you strongly dislike it. We often use it in these two phrases:

  • can’t stand + noun
    Ex) I can’t stand the smell of onions.
  • can’t stand it when + situation
    Ex) I can’t stand it when my kids come into the house with muddy shoes.

#7 – “I can’t bear to live so far away from my family.”

If you can’t bear something, it means it makes you extremely sad; it is difficult for you to endure. We often use it in these ways:

  • can’t bear to watch
    Ex) The death scene is horrible. I can’t bear to watch it.
  • can’t bear the thought of
    Ex) He’s so focused on success; he can’t bear the thought of failing.

#8 – “I know I shouldn’t feel guilty since it wasn’t my fault, but I can’t help it.”

I can’t help it means that you are unable to stop or prevent yourself from doing something or feeling a certain way. You can also say I can’t help + verb in the -ING form: “I can’t help feeling guilty, even though it wasn’t my fault.”

#9 – “I spent my vacation relaxing on the beach and eating delicious food. You can’t beat that!

The expressions You can’t beat that! and You can’t top that! means the situation is the best; it can’t be any better. The “you” is impersonal; it is talking about the situation in general, not talking to a specific person. Sometimes we say it without the “you” – “Can’t beat that!” and “Can’t top that!” 

#10 – “I can’t thank you enough for all your help.”

The phrase I can’t thank you enough expresses very deep, sincere gratitude. It is usually used when you are thanking the person for something they did that was very significant or very meaningful to you.

You’ll learn hundreds of conversational English expressions in this course:

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