Are both examples acceptable?

  1. As I had to go to the dentist, I was allowed to leave work early
  2. As I had to go to the dentist, I could leave work early.

Does the implied permission legitimise the grammar?

  • Both are good. But the first one sounds better, maybe because it has overtones of politeness.
    – vickyace
    May 11, 2016 at 19:08

1 Answer 1


The commenter below shot down a lot of my grammatical points ;-) But the answer is the same. Both sentences are acceptable. The first sentence implies you have and need permission. The second doesn't emphasize this as much.

  • Neither first clause is in the past perfect. Only the first second clause is the simple past. The second second clause uses the past form of the modal auxiliary can. The simple past would be I left work early. "I could" is not a verb as it contains a subject. Could is past tense but it's not an active (i.e. transitive) verb. The first sentence doesn't imply permssion; it states it. The second likely carries the aspect of permission, but could sometimes has the aspect of ability. Other than that....
    – deadrat
    May 12, 2016 at 2:07
  • You make some good points. I actually didn't know about modal verbs. Thanks for teaching me about them. Although I have to say, some of your points are pedantic.
    – ktm5124
    May 12, 2016 at 3:26
  • What do you mean by pedantic? Correct? I wish you could have emphasized the variety of aspects that could could carry. For instance, what would this mean: As I no longer needed the crutches, I could leave work early?
    – deadrat
    May 12, 2016 at 4:18

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