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· You can’t do that.
· You can’t do that and get away with it.
· You can’t say that to me
An often misused phrase to the point where it’s often used in a nonsensical way. It begs the question, “Why not?”, and that’s often what you’ll get in response. Or, the other person will argue that they can, and you’ll say they can’t. Or you’ll be trying to assert some authority by saying this, and the other person will feel almost obligated to prove they actually CAN, if only to spite you.
The only way this phrase can work is when it’s true, in a very literal sense, like “You can’t lift a thousand pounds”, OR you can actually stop someone from doing something, which is extremely rare. You can apply consequences if someone does something unacceptable, but that’s after it HAS been done. So, in almost all cases, it’s simply not true, and it opens up all manner of nasty argument. And, of course, it’s coercive and an attempt to bully, or use power, often power you don’t have.
Make It Better:
Here are some better ways to say similar thing that are more likely to promote discussion and thought:
· The government won’t permit you to…
· Have you considered the consequences of going ahead with this?
· I can’t accept that. I may not be able to stop you but I will…
· I think that’s a really bad idea.