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cannot/can’t help something - definition and synonyms

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90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

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  1. 1
    used for saying that someone cannot stop themselves doing something

    She couldn’t help laughing when she saw it.

    I shouldn’t have said it but I couldn’t help myself.

    can’t help thinking (=have good reason for thinking):

    I couldn’t help thinking he was asking for trouble.

  2. 2

    someone cannot/can’t help it if

    used for saying that someone cannot be blamed for a situation

    She could not help it if her emotions took charge of her.

  3. 3

    it cannot/can’t be helped

    there is no way of preventing something from happening

    It can’t be helped, we’ll just have to manage without her.

  4. 4

    not if someone can help it

    used for saying that someone is trying to avoid something that they do not like doing

    They never go there if they can help it.

See also main entry: help


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