Last week my friend received some legal documents and he need to sign it and send it back. But he was not accept those terms and conditions mentioned in that. so he could not sign that.

Now he want to explain this in a document as "I could not give the signed documents because the statements mentioned in that is not acceptable for me".


'I couldn't '

correct ? I felt it is OK for verbal communication but for some legal writings we have to show our strong opposition, we need a bold or strong word.

  • Legal writing is quite formal and generally very high-level English. You make a number of mistakes in your question that suggest you aren't completely fluent in English. So I'm not sure how to answer your question, since there's little tolerance for these kind of mistakes when writing contracts or other legally binding documents ... next to which it's trivial whether you use "could not" or "couldn't".
    – Andrew
    Oct 11, 2017 at 5:06
  • Why don't you use refuse? I refuse to sign the documents...
    – Yuri
    Oct 25, 2017 at 8:26
  • @Andrew. The OP is not writing a legal document and does not require legal jargon. He/she merely wants a simple way of explaining the reason why the papers were not signed. My suggestion: "I am unable to sign the documents because they contain statements that are not acceptable to me" Jun 20, 2020 at 13:53

1 Answer 1


To make you statement bold you can use cannot.

I cannot sign the documents because the statements mentioned in it is not acceptable for me

It shows strong word because the word tells that the opposition continues at present also, whereas couldn't shows the opposition only in the past.

  • Usually, italics is better in a letter. :)
    – Lambie
    Apr 2, 2023 at 20:58

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