On the Saying "I can't wait"

  • September 12, 2009
  • James Skemp
  • article

I would be willing to bet that at least 90% of the time when someone uses the phrase "I can't wait" they're lying.

What made me realize this is when I read a comment the other day regarding a video game's review. In this comment the individual had basically stated that they couldn't wait for the game. At the time of their comment, however, the game was already in stores and available for purchase.

Another individual said that they couldn't wait, but had some excuse on how they needed to spend their money on something else.

Can't, being the opposite of can, means unable to. Normal usage of this statement suggests then that the individual is unable to wait for whatever they're referring to.

However, in the cases listed above, it's clear that the people can wait, or they would put all else aside for what they're waiting for.

In fact, if someone is unable to wait, they must be doing something which would bring about what they're waiting for.

"I can't wait to get started" suggests that the person saying this is starting to do whatever they were previously waiting to do. If someone were to say this, however, and continue to wait, even for another minute, they've lied.

Given this, it may be that the 90% estimate is a bit high, but perhaps not by much.