I am a bit confused with the formation of this sentence. My lines are:

What if I were a girl? Would I have been able to cope with the ordeal that women and girls live through every day?

But I am still confused about whether writing would I have been able to is the correct form.

Would it still be correct if I change that to

What if I were a girl? Could I have coped with the ordeal that women and girls live through every day?

  • 1
    Both say the same. "to be able to" is just a more fancy expression for "can" and your grammar is correct for both. So it's just a matter of taste, which one you use. – Anke Apr 12 '13 at 7:46
  • So you mean to say that it won't be incorrect if I say "Would I have been able to cope with....?". Can I go with it? – Amit Pattnaik Apr 12 '13 at 7:49
  • Absolutely. Like I said, the meaning is the same and both are grammatically correct. – Anke Apr 12 '13 at 7:53
  • Please look at the many related can-vs-be-able questions, and possibly also the conditional-perfect questions as well. – tchrist Apr 12 '13 at 12:20

Would is better as it's expressing a hypothetical subjunctive. That's also why it's correctly "if I were a girl" and not the incorrect "if I was a girl".

  • I was going to disagree with this, then I thought about it and realised you are right. Could is still possible, but in a way ambiguous because it could also be used in a realis case, whereas would definitely takes it into the irrealis (hypothetical). Here, since the previous sentence makes it clearly hypothetical either will do, but in general would is better. – Colin Fine Apr 12 '13 at 9:17
  • Thank you Colin :)) Yeah, I finally settled for "would". – Amit Pattnaik Apr 20 '13 at 9:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.