English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

This question already has an answer here:

Is "Why can not I" grammatically correct?

If not, why is "Why can't I" grammatically correct?

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by waiwai933 Aug 8 '13 at 5:34

This question was marked as an exact duplicate of an existing question.

1  
I found my question elsewhere on here, so this is a duplicate. english.stackexchange.com/questions/78935/… – Mister Dood Aug 8 '13 at 5:31

They are both correct. The first is a contracted form of the second. The first seems to be common in spoken and even written English, which makes the second a bit unheard of.

share|improve this answer

'Why can not I' is not grammatically correct. Because as per the standard formal usage, in interrogative sentences only the helping verb can come before the subject and not 'not.'

In 'Why can't I,' can't is read as cant and not 'can not.' While 'can not' consists of two words, can't is just one word and it IS the helping verb here. It's the word taken into writing after it became popular in speaking.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.