Can you start a sentence with Can’t?

Yes, you can start a sentence with “can’t” when speaking informally or asking a question and you should use the subject before “can’t” when in a formal situation. 

Can’t is mostly used at the beginning of questions and is the contraction of “cannot”.

  • Informal: “Can’t wait to see that new movie!”
  • Formal: “I can’t wait to see that new movie.”
  • Question: “Can’t we wait to see that movie tomorrow?”

While can’t is most commonly used in declarative sentences to express negation when in the middle of a sentence, using it at the beginning allows the user to express, emphasise and suggest in many ways.

Here is a table with some examples on the difference uses when you start a sentence with can’t and also inside a sentence:

SentenceUse of “Can’t”Explanation
I can’t swim.Declarative sentence to Negate abilityIndicates that the person is not able to swim.
Can’t wait to visit Japan this week!Expresses anticipationShows excitement or anticipation for the upcoming trip.
Can’t you see I’m busy right now?Emphasizes annoyanceHighlights the speaker’s annoyance at being disturbed, emphasizing their need for focus.
Can’t we just take a break?Makes a suggestionUsed to suggest taking a break, implying it’s needed.

Common Example sentences Starting what can’t: 

StatementTypical Use
Can’t wait!”Used to express eager anticipation for future events.
Can’t believe it!”Commonly used to express surprise or astonishment.
Can’t argue with that.”A way to agree with a statement that seems true or reasonable.
Can’t help it.”Used to explain actions that are seen as uncontrollable.
Can’t deny it.”Acknowledging the truth or validity of something evident.
Can’t complain.”Suggesting satisfaction or resignation; things could be worse.
Can’t decide.”Expressing indecision between options.
Can’t go wrong.”Suggesting a choice or action is sure to be a good one.
Can’t make it.”Informing someone of inability to attend or participate.
Can’t remember.”Indicating an inability to recall information or memories.
can't remember example

Common Example Questions Starting what can’t: 

QuestionContext or Typical Usage
Can’t you see what’s happening?Used to express disbelief or frustration in a situation.
Can’t we agree on this?Seeking agreement or consensus on a matter.
Can’t you do it tomorrow?Suggesting or questioning the possibility of postponing an action.
Can’t we just get along?Pleading for harmony or less conflict in a group.
Can’t you keep it down?Requesting someone to be quieter or reduce noise.
Can’t we go somewhere else?Suggesting a change of location or a desire to leave.
Can’t you tell me what happened?Asking for an explanation or information about an event.
Can’t you try a little harder?Encouraging more effort or engagement from someone.
Can’t we do this another time?Proposing to reschedule an event or meeting.
Can’t I just have five more minutes?Requesting a brief extension of time for an activity.

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