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“Can hardly wait” versus “can't hardly wait”

These two seem to be opposites of each other because of the additional "not" in one of them. However, they seem to be interchangeable. Are they? What's the difference?

marked as duplicate by Alain Pannetier Φ, mplungjan, Marthaª, Callithumpian, Thursagen Jun 23 '11 at 21:37

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The correct version here in "can hardly". This is what anyone who uses either phrase likely means, at least.

While "cannot hardly" is grammatically correct, it is effectively a double negative, and thus its meaning is confusing at best, plain wrong at worst. Translate it as "I am nearly unable to do ..." and you should see why its meaning is not the same. Sure, it could be used correctly in some contexts (the exact opposite of "can hardly"), but I'd posit that almost all of its colloquial usage is wrong; a bit like "I don't want nothing".


While people use them in the same way, this is not correct.

Can Hardly is the correct way.. as in "I can hardly wait to get there."

Saying "I can't hardly wait to get there." is effectively saying I can wait. It is a double negative and "not" and "hardly" cancel one another out.

  • Yeah, nice jog of rephrasing my asnwer. ;) – Noldorin Jun 24 '11 at 1:22
  • Yours wasn't up when I started replying. :P – DKGasser Jun 24 '11 at 11:31
  • Well 10 minutes after I posted mine, I still didn't see yours, so it must have took you a darn long time to write that hah. – Noldorin Jun 24 '11 at 13:41
  • Seeing as SE says they were posted 5 minutes apart, I find that highly unlikely. Apologies if you feel slighted, I wasn't rehashing what you said with any knowledge of what you had said. – DKGasser Jun 27 '11 at 19:28
  • No, my bad. I could have sworn it was a lot longer, but fair enough. You're quite in your right to leave your answer if it was only 5 mins. I sometimes do the same / sometimes delete mine, so fair enough. – Noldorin Jun 27 '11 at 21:11

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