can't help

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can't help

  1. Not able to avoid a situation, or stop something from happening.
    I can't help crying whenever I see Romeo and Juliet.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Only negative forms of can help have this meaning of cannot avoid.
    Example. No-one can help laughing when he comes on stage.
  • can help can have the meaning of able to avoid only when the context has already established the use of can't help.
    Example. A: I can't help being scared. B: Of course you can help it.
  • This is a catenative verb that takes the gerund (-ing) or, with but, the bare infinitive. See Appendix:English catenative verbs
  • Alternative structure with but followed by the bare infinitive. I can't help but agree with you.