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If a person is asking about permission not to read something, he doesn't want to read it and asks not to read it. Can we use the phrase “Can I not read it”? Is it correct?

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2 Answers 2

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"Do I have to read it?" That's natural and unambiguous.

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  • This doesn't answer the question.
    – alphabet
    Mar 26 at 1:56
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The problem with this sentence is that it is syntactically ambiguous as to whether not negates can or read. Sentences of this structure are usually used with the intention that not negate can, and are consequently more likely to be interpreted that way, unless the context or the intonation indicates that the other reading is intended. In one wants to completely avoid the problem, one should use some entirely different formulation, that avoids combining not and can, such as 'Is it OK if I don't read it?' or 'Can I trust you to read it for me and give me your opinion?.

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