Swan says in his book Advanced Oxford Grammar that we usually use this construction:

I don't imagine + affirmative verb

E.g. I don't Imagine John will read the instructions I sent him.

I've been comparing this construction with I can't imagine .... My question is, do they have the same meaning, even though they are differed by the verb and modal?

I've tried to search related problems involving **I can't imagine... ** provided here:

  1. can-t-begin-to-imagine-understand-explain-etc.
  2. I can't imagine John is driving a car.

Both links gave me a sense that those forms I've mentioned before are the same in meaning. However, I want to know if it turns out they are extremely different.

1 Answer 1


"I don't imagine..." states without emphasis that, in your opinion, something is probably untrue.

"I can't imagine..." adds emphasis by suggesting that, in your opinion, something is vanishingly unlikely.

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