English Grammar


I can't help but ask the question...

Hi everybody. I was just said something like : "I can't help BUT ASK the question", when I would have rather said : "I can't help askING the question". Is this same-difference? Or does my phrase make an other meaning to the sentence? Or worrying myself sick over nothing? Is there anybody here to do me a favor and help me survive my headache? By the time, I need some Tylenol. What do they call acetaminophen again? Paracetamol? I know. Only my pharmacist doesn't. But medicines are not the point. Grammar is. I count on you. Thanks a lot.

8 comments

  • Hello Jean Pierre,
    I can't help answering your question OR I can't help but answer your question??? Well, according to Michael Swan (whose book "Practical Usage" published by Oxford University Press I can highly recommend) the second structure is not very common; it is even unusual in Spoken English...The book I mentioned above answers tricky grammar but also vocabulary questions.Very useful for keen learners of English like you Jean Pierre. I'm afraid it is more expensive than Paracetamol but it has long-lasting effects and no side effects. In the meantime, you can rely on the members of the Forum including a new member like me. By the way, my nickname Silky is actually my cat's name. So don't start fantasizing but have sweet dreams all the same!
  • Hello Jean Pierre,
    I can't help answering your question OR I can't help but answer your question??? Well, according to Michael Swan (whose book "Practical Usage" published by Oxford University Press I can highly recommend) the second structure is not very common; it is even unusual in Spoken English...The book I mentioned above answers tricky grammar but also vocabulary questions.Very useful for keen learners of English like you Jean Pierre. I'm afraid it is more expensive than Paracetamol but it has long-lasting effects and no side effects. In the meantime, you can rely on the members of the Forum including a new member like me. By the way, my nickname Silky is actually my cat's name. So don't start fantasizing but have sweet dreams all the same!
  • Hi Silky, thank you very much for your reply. Thanks to you, I’ve taken note that even the most famous grammar books don’t mention such a popular phrase. Hope you’ll take it easy (que tu ne le prendras pas mal), but I eventually couldn't help but tape « can’t help but » on my favorite (favourite?) search engine and guess what? (tu sais tu c’est quoi? en bon français de là bas) It appears in almost seven millions web sites all over the world. I didn’t know. No biggie, now, you and I, we know. Anyway, I’m sorry I have no nickname. I just thought my first name would be enough. Yours is actually cute. I love it. Take care of you Silky, and of your little pet Silky as well. By the way, did I tell you GYMGLISH told me first about this phrase? They seem to be smarter than books... I'm making this phrase mine.
  • Hello Jean Pierre,
    After reading your answer, I can't help but conclude that English IS definitely a language from which the words "never used or "seldom used" should be banned. Of course M.Swan is really British and the influence of American English is more and more widespread,isn't it? It was interesting to read your reaction and of course I'm not taking it amiss. I disagree with the people who say English is easy. It's true that the beginnings are easy, that it's not too difficult to get by in GB - except to understand some odd accents - but the usage of English is not that easy (though I think it is easier than French).
    How lucky we are not to have to learn French...and to learn English with such a pleasant method including a forum that enables us to share ideas with other learners...
  • hi for all
    for me a can't understoud in the one hand, for the sercend i can't found any way to study the book montioned and i hope to found via this forum to improve my skils in englich.
    thanks all for
  • From Silky:
    Hello Jean Pierre,
    I can't help answering your question OR I can't help but answer your question??? Well, according to Michael Swan (whose book "Practical Usage" published by Oxford University Press I can highly recommend) the second structure is not very common; it is even unusual in Spoken English...The book I mentioned above answers tricky grammar but also vocabulary questions.Very useful for keen learners of English like you Jean Pierre. I'm afraid it is more expensive than Paracetamol but it has long-lasting effects and no side effects. In the meantime, you can rely on the members of the Forum including a new member like me. By the way, my nickname Silky is actually my cat's name. So don't start fantasizing but have sweet dreams all the same!

     
  • Dear Silky,
    according to the third edition (which is the latest one) of Michael Swan's book, structures such as 'I can't help but ask the question' are common in American English.
  • From Artifact:
    Dear Silky,
    according to the third edition (which is the latest one) of Michael Swan's book, structures such as 'I can't help but ask the question' are common in American
    English.

     


    Dear Artifact,
    Thank you very much for your interesting piece of information. American English is not my cup of tea...It's one of the reasons why I like Gymglish because I can learn American words, expressions,pronunciation etc...
    Besides, I can't help but thank you for sparing me the trouble (and the cost!) of buying M.Swan's latest edition.
    Bye for today

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