can't seem to

can't seem to

Apparently unable to or incapable of doing something. I've been over these figures three times, but I just can't seem to get them to add up. He couldn't seem to figure out how to work the machine.
See also: seem
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

can't seem to

Be apparently unable to, as in No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to concentrate on this book. This phrase gives added emphasis to a negative statement, as in the example. [Late 1800s]
See also: seem
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
See also:
References in classic literature ?
"Well now, I can't seem to," said Matthew, as he opened the yard gate to let the cows through.
They don't SELL this hot water; no, you go into the great Trinkhalle, and stand around, first on one foot and then on the other, while two or three young girls sit pottering at some sort of ladylike sewing-work in your neighborhood and can't seem to see you --polite as three-dollar clerks in government offices.
"I can't seem to locate your farm," he said, "though I've been to Temperance and used to live up that way.
That is the way with those Goobra people - they can't seem to let a chance go by to throw it in your face that their day is three hundred and twenty-two of our years long.
But I do find it frustrating that certain people in the media can't seem to make the distinction between us.
Problem is, you can't seem to find the energy to get things going.
Summary: Washington [U.S.A.], Apr 20 (ANI): Ever since the photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting Queen Elizabeth in London surfaced on the Internet, people can't seem to get enough of it.
Now we have the major embarrassment of so many MPs from all parties who can't seem to behave the way most of us would expect - and they want to waste time and money to come up with new standards of conduct.
People just can't seem to get themselves to sit quietly and wait for Google to make the official announcements.
THE male party leaders may have decided an election campaign is a time to wear a suit and tie almost constantly, but Newsnight's Evan Davis can't seem to decide.
But Slade will be confused as to why his side just can't seem to turn things on for the whole of the match.
.MISSDLLOYD BACK on it #focused .ALEXGERRARD7 CAN'T seem to wake up 2muchbrokensleep .PAULSMITHJNR It's a bit easier getting out the bed at 5:30am in August than it is in January .IAMAMYJACKSON, above THE Ugly Truth #I .NATASHAOFFICIAL Having a quiet cuppa in bed whilst Ella sleeps.
However, in practice, the opposition's messages and scandals can't seem to get to citizens and the government is relatively "handling" these attacks well.
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