Can’t eat your cake and have it too

There’s a phrase commonly employed by those who wish to express the inevitability of a compromise: You can’t have your cake and eat it too. This is problematic, as a friend had duly pointed out to me. More correctly, it ought to be: You can’t eat your cake and have it too. At first glance, the two variations might appear no different; which indeed they aren’t if one ignores all sense of time within the sentence. That is, both actions are taken to happen simultaneously. But is it not intuitive to invoke a sense of time in everything we read? In the first variation, this would mean that (1) you can’t have your cake, and (2) later eat it as well. The flaw becomes obvious. You can have your cake and eat it too – after all, what could be stopping you from consuming the cake that is presently in your possession? The second variation however prevents this flaw. Once you eat your cake, you won’t have it in your possession, and thus you can’t have it too.

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