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I can't seem to get started today

If we read from the left to the right then we consecutively get following equals:

I can't (to do smth)

where "to do smth" is "seem to get started today"

But "seem to get started today" = "seem as if I get started today". So, we have:

I can't seem as if I get started today

And finally after substitute "I can't"="I am not able to" we have:

(Meaning 1): I am not able to seem as if I get started today

But It is wrong and the right meaning is:

(Meaning 2): I seem to not be able to get started today

Why is that?

2
  • You need to explain why you think the plain left-to-right reading is meaning 1. That isn't the case. Nov 22, 2020 at 11:22
  • Sorry, I have added information explaining why the plain left-to-right reading is meaning 1 to my question.
    – xyz
    Nov 22, 2020 at 12:03

1 Answer 1

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I can't seem to get started today

I agree with all of your logic.

On the face of it, the above means "I am unable to seem X". This implies that I am trying to seem X but for some reason I cannot.

However the meaning that a native speaker will understand is not based on logic but on expected meaning and common usage.

So the intention of the phrase is "It seems that I can't get started today."

You can consider this as an idiom that does not stand up to logical scrutiny. The intended meaning overrides the grammar.

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