This sentence talks about capability.

I can never do that.

This sentence talks about a choice. A personal preference maybe?

I will never do that.

Is this correct or can we use it interchangeably?

2 Answers 2


You shouldn't be using it interchangeably. Like you said, one is about ability while the other one is about choice. It's the same thing when you're using 'may'.

I can jump six feet into the air, but I will not because I might strain my hip.

  • 2
    Bear in mind that 'I can never do that' could be used rhetorically to indicate that it goes against you principles so greatly that you cannot imagine doing it. Literally, there's an element of choice here, but the figurative use of 'can' implicates that the choice not too do something is more fundamental.
    – Dancrumb
    Feb 23, 2011 at 1:12
  • +1 @Dancrumb, yeah true. This might be because he/she feels so strongly about something that it becomes more than just a 'should I/would I' question
    – JohnP
    Feb 23, 2011 at 3:53

This sentence talks about capability.

I can never do that.

Is 'capability' the only meaning that holds. Could 'can' not hold a meaning of "it's not possible for me to do that"?

A: Are you leaving your wife?

B: I can never do that.

Of course, for some that would also entail that they don't have the capability, the strength, the personal resolve to leave the wife, but I can envision a scenario where the person is completely capable knows that it's not possible.

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