I could not help but laugh. | How to Solve the CSS 2019 Sentence Correction Questions?

I could not help but laugh. | How to Solve the CSS 2019 Sentence Correction Questions?

Is it correct to say, “I could not help but laugh”? | How to Solve the CSS 2019 Sentence Correction Questions? | CSS 2019 Solved Sentence Correction Questions with Detailed Explanation by Sir Syed Kazim Ali | CSS Solved Past Papers Sentence Corrections, CSS Sentence Correction with Explanations, CSS Solved Sentence Correction.

Every time you put your thoughts or ideas into writing in a competitive exam: CSS or PMS, it must represent you at your very best. Your best greatly depends upon the correct use of grammar, sentence structuring, preposition, punctuation, vocabulary, expression, translation, and how explicitly you put your precise thoughts relevantly and coherently to the examiner. That is why CSS and PMS exams have made English essays and Precis & Composition papers compulsory. So, you have to care much about sentence correction, spelling, punctuation, and mechanics errors. 

Expressing your thoughts on the given topic coherently, fluently, and grammatically correct by supporting each of your stances through examples, facts, and illustrations is the key to cracking CSS, PMS Essay paper. But, unfortunately, although most students, with dedication and practice, learn the art of essay writing within months; despite knowing how to build an argument, introduction, the body of the essay, and analytical conclusion, a great many aspirants in Pakistan fail to score the passing marks in the CSS, PMS Essay and precis papers. This situation baffles aspirants and keeps putting them into the vortex of confusion by making qualifying for essay writing and precis paper a Herculean task, if not to all but to a lot. To help aspirants understand the proper way of cracking essays and precise papers demands understanding the elements of an essay. An essay is a perfect amalgamation of well-connected, coherent thoughts that must not possess any grammatical, spelling, punctuation, and mechanics errors; otherwise, it distracts readers and examiners and results in the failure of an aspirant at large. Unfortunately, to add fuel to the fire, nearly all available books, notes, and websites – which Google displays when you search CSS Past Papers Sentence Corrections – have incorrectly explained the questions. In this detailed article, I have explained the CSS sentence correction questions in detail and what the CSS, PMS examiner sets out in the precis paper to test aspirants.

English, for sure, has dozens of cryptic grammatical rules, many of which the CSS, PMS examiner does not test. Without any doubt, the CSS, PMS precis papers are not set out to test grammar rules; they, instead, are set up to check the clarity of the written expression of an aspirant. For example, if you place a modifier at the wrong place, the intended meaning of a sentence become at odds. 

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CSS 2019 Sentence Corrections with Detailed Explanations by Sir Syed Kazim Ali


I could not help but laugh.


  • I couldn’t but laugh.
  • I couldn’t help laughing.


Although the phrase “Can’t/Couldn’t Help But Laugh” is used by many natives and non-natives in their blogs and articles, it is not a standard English Language phrase. The right phrase is “Can’t/Couldn’t Help + Gerund (Laughing, Smiling, Eating, etc.)”. Thus, we always use the phrase with a gerund (not with the verb).


  • Can’t/Couldn’t help + Gerund (Present Participle working as a noun) 


  • I cannot help but laugh. (Incorrect)
  • I cannot help laughing. (Correct) 

Detailed Explanation

There are two phrases (Colloquialism) in the English language: “Cannot (Help) But/Cannot But” and “Cannot Help”. Most non-natives think that they are synonymous with each other. However, both phrases have different meanings and are used in different contexts depending on the sense. For example, the phrase “Can’t Help” takes a Gerund (present participle working as a noun) after it and indicates that the subject is helpless. Whereas the phrase “Can’t (Help) But/Can’t But” takes 1st form of the verb (bare infinitive) after it and indicates that the subject is compelled to do something. For example, “I can’t help eating the cookies” means that I am unable to stop myself from eating them; however, “I can’t help but/can’t but eat the cookies” means that I can’t do anything else other than eating them because I was forced to do. 

The Uses of “Cannot (Help) But / Cannot But”: 

  • The meaning of the phrase is “To left with no choice except to do something”, “To be unable to do anything else except to do the given thing”, “To be unable to choose anything else but something that is compelled”, or “To be unable to avoid some action because of compulsion.” 
  • In simple words, we use this phrase when we are unable to choose any but the given option because we are forced to choose. 
  • We use this phrase to indicate that the subject has to do something because they are compelled to do it. 
  • The phrase refers to a reaction, which is forced by an external cause or external compulsion.
  • The phrase has a negative connotation. 
  • We always say “Cannot But”, “Couldn’t But”, and “Cannot Help But”, but we don’t say “Couldn’t Help But”.  
  • The phrase is always followed by the “first form of the verb (Bare Infinitive)”. 
  • We usually omit the word “Help” while writing the phrase in a sentence. Let’s focus on the following examples: 


  • You can’t help but marry her. (You have to marry her.)
  • You can’t but/couldn’t but marry her. (You have to marry her.) 
  • You can’t (help) but laugh. (You have to laugh.) 
  • The gun was positioned where I couldn’t but marry her. (I had to marry her.) 
  • can’t help but think/can’t but think she was hiding something. 
  • can’t help but/can’t but intervene before she throws her life away on nicotine.  
  • After seeing the mafia – academy, inept-mentor, and publisher – I couldn’t but develop Howfiv to save millions from wasting billions. 
  • I know you may mind it, but Ali and Alia can’t help but/can’t but arrive late if they are still at home. 

The Uses of “Cannot Help”

  • The meaning of the phrase is “To remain unable to stop doing something”.
  • We use this phrase to indicate that the subject (action doer) is helpless and can’t abstain or prevent themselves from doing something.
  • The phrase refers to a subject’s internal feelings and the ability and non-ability to control them by themselves.  
  • Unlike “Can’t (Help) But”, it doesn’t indicate compulsion. The subject keeps doing things because they remain unable to stop themselves. 
  • The phrase has a positive connotation. 
  • We use Gerund (Present Participle working as a noun) immediately after the phrase, not the 1st form of the verb. 


  • I couldn’t help falling in love with my country. (I can’t stop myself from loving my country.) 
  • She can’t help falling in love with him. (She can’t stop herself from falling in love with him) 
  • They can’t help eating cookies. 
  • When I made a joke, my wife couldn’t help laughing. 
  • As I look back over my youthhood, I can’t help smiling. 
  • When I saw Sarah’s newly stitched dress yesterday, I couldn’t help dancing because it was so funny. 
  • I can’t help explaining the corrections of the past papers to help thousands of competitive students. 

Thus, the right answer can be: 

  • I couldn’t but laugh. 
  • I couldn’t help laughing. 

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Syed Kazim Ali is the best English language teacher in Pakistan. He is one of the teachers who has recognized himself globally because of his masterful command of the English language. The best part of him that has made him the best English language teacher in Pakistan is his teaching art that helps students write their thoughts grammatically correct. The way he teaches his students writing like a pro is miraculous. Among the top English language coaches worldwide, Sir Syed Kazim Ali helps his students reach their full potential at a pace that suits them. He knows that CSS aspirants’ approach to learning the English language is different, and over the years, he has developed a unique teaching methodology, which helps his students crack English essays and precis papers. The way he explains and simplifies the concepts no other English teacher across Pakistan can do. He has successfully taught hundreds of successful students preparing for entrance or competitive exams such as MDCAT, GAT, SAT, GMAT, GRE, CSS, FPSC, PMS, etc. His online creative English writing session gives you the skills and confidence to get the best possible exam results. He focuses on your exam’s critical areas, helps identify your strengths and weaknesses, and equips you with the writing skills you need to correctly and confidently express your thoughts and opinions. Currently, Sir Syed Kazim Ali is the only English teacher in Pakistan who has the highest students success rate. Let’s read more about Sir.

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