I know "I can't help laughing" means I can't stop myself from laughing.

What I want to know is "I can't stop laughing"* also means the same.

Thank you guys for helping me out especially prem, your explanation cleared my doubt

  • 3
    "I can't help laughing" sounds a bit odd to my (American) ears. I would much more readily say "I can't help but laugh" Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 15:54
  • 4
    @ChaseSandmann I'm American too, and I wouldn't find either one odd. I see you're from the South; I'm from the Midwest. Perhaps it's a regional thing.
    – Nicole
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 18:38
  • I'm from the northwest and I hear the former much more than the latter.
    – Seth
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 22:40
  • I agree, the latter is much rarer.
    – René
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 23:49
  • "I can't stop laughing" is the phrase you'd apply to the Johnny Carson axe incident.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 13:31

6 Answers 6


Consider this situation: there is a guy who wears Different strange clothes every day and whenever you see him in his new set of cloths, you laugh out loud. Your mother says you should stop doing that. The next time he comes, you still laugh and when your mother stares at you, you respond "I can't help laughing !", meaning "I can't stop myself from laughing, whenever I see his clothes !".

Consider this situation: the same guy, who happens to be a clown, shares a joke with you and your mother, and you both start laughing at the funny joke, and your mother recovers quickly. You continue laughing for minutes, and your mother says "Stop laughing like an idiot !". You respond "I can't stop laughing", meaning, in this situation, this particular joke is too funny and you just cannot stop, even if you want to.

I have been a victim of both cases in my office space. A friend sends me jokes by email, and when I read those, I usually can not help laughing. One particular joke was too much for me and I could not stop laughing for 5 minutes. I had to run away and hide in a meeting room for a while.

While this Distinction is small, the proper usage adds nuance to statements.

  • I'd say that the more common usage of 'I can't stop laughing when ...' is what you imply is not the proper usage. A quick look at the first few Google hits for "I can't stop laughing when" shows divided usage (though some examples are hard to categorise). If true, one has to rethink the descriptor 'proper usage'. Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 11:10
  • Well @Prem, actually I think you were trying to say "I cannot help laughing" means "I am not able not to laugh". Right? :)
    – A-friend
    Commented Jul 13, 2019 at 8:50
  • 1
    @A-friend , yes , that is another way to say that !
    – Prem
    Commented Jul 13, 2019 at 19:36

They are different:

Simply put, the difference is in the duration of the laughter. "I can't stop laughing" implies laughter for an extended (generally lengthy) period of time. "I can't help laughing" implies the necessity of laughter, but does not require a duration.



they are grammatically different, and their meanings are a bit different,too:

  • "I can't stop laughing" means something has been so funny that has made me laugh badly, and I cannot stop my laughter !.

  • "I can't help laughing" means "laughing at" the given issue has been the only option! "I couldn't do anything else in that time but laughing!" :)

  • 1
    In practice, they probably are the same, but the difference is as Soudabeh says.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 9:54

I agree with others who explain the difference in meaning between your alternatives. But the version of your first alternative that seems familiar to me is "I can't help but laugh" not "I can't help laughing."


1 - When you say: "I can not stop laughing or eating or ..." it means that something has started and you try to end it up but you can't. 2 - When you say: "I can not help laughing or eating or ..." it means that you try not to let something start but you can't.

  • Hello, Ali. This has already been given in other answers. Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 23:52

The school exercises in the transformation of English sentences taught me that both sentences mean the same thing and that they are grammatically correct.


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