Monday, March 1, 2010

Can't Help

You might have heard the idiom "Can't help" a lot, but have not completely understand the meaning of this idiom.

"Help" itself means to refrain from, or to avoid.
"Can't help" means unable to refrain from, unable to resist, or can't prevent oneself from.

- I can't help thinking about her.
Means I can't refrain myself from thinking about her.

Another usage of can't help is in the idiom "can't help but", which means the same as "can't help".

- She is so pretty that I can't help but admire her.
Means she is so pretty that I can't resist admiring her.

However, the use of "can't help but" in the example above has been condemned by some as the ungrammatical version of "can't help". Nevertheless, it is not a false usage of idiom to use "can't help but", it is just that "can't help" is more common nowadays.

The example above has the same meaning as:
- She is so pretty that I can't help admiring her.

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