I've heard so ads say this quote:

Do what you can't!

But later I'm thinking doesn't

Try what you can't?

make more sense?

In my thought how can you say Do what you can't when you can't do it, if you CAN do it then the sentence doesn't makes sense, am I right?

If you look at Try what you can't, it looks more fine because you're encouraging somebody to try something new.

What do you think?

Am I correct with my view?

Also, is "Do what you can't" really a good sentence?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Dan Bron, Rob_Ster, Nigel J, Skooba, NVZ Dec 18 '17 at 18:18

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    "Do what you can't" is perfectly grammatical, but is a contradiction. So it is pretty well meaningless except as marketing puff (where meaning is much less important than other aspects of language). The sentence doesn't make sense, so trying to make it make sense is a pointless exercise. – Colin Fine Dec 16 '17 at 13:55
  • You said yourself: you saw in an ad. Ads don’t need to make logical sense, and this one clearly doesn’t. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 16 '17 at 14:00
  • @ColinFine Then how about Try what you can't? – Andrew.Wolphoe Dec 16 '17 at 14:34
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    Try what you can't is paradoxical in exactly the same way, because the omitted verb is assumed to be the same as the first: "Try what you can't try". If you can't try it, how can you try it? The thing about "Do what you can't" is that the advertised product allows you to do it. "Do what you would otherwise be unable to". – Andrew Leach Dec 16 '17 at 15:16
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    Because English doesn't work that way. If there is a verb omitted, the first choice for what it should be is the nearest verb still in the sentence which makes grammatical sense. If try is that verb still present, then try is taken to be the omitted word. It's very unusual to supply a word which is not already present. – Andrew Leach Dec 16 '17 at 17:01

Let me preface my answer by quoting Yoda,

"Do or do not, there is no try."

Having gotten that out of the way, let me say that language as we use it to communicate refers to the interlocutors' conceptualization of the world.

If someone says

I can't pick up that 200-pound rock

but then proceeds to pick it up, then his statement was still true at the time he said it. But his statement referred to his conceptualization of the world, which in this case did not align with reality.

So, if someone says

Do pick up that 200-pound rock which you can't pick up

this is equivalent to

Do pick up that 200-pound rock which you think/perceive you can't pick up.


Do what you can't

simply means

Do that which (what) you think you can't do, perhaps based on past experience, lack of confidence, ignorance of one's own abilities, etc.

Whatever it is, what you "can't do" is an erroneous perception of reality on "your" part.

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