In this video in min. 3:59 the guy, who is teaching English says: "how could you have allowed me to do that" and he claims that that means "how did you let me do that". From my understanding that's totally wrong. Because, he should have said: "How could you allow me to do that?" Implying: "How come you let me do that?" Instead, to make it sound right. Not as if he is saying: " I know why you didn't let me do that?" Or maybe "I understand you couldn't let me do that." Because that is what I understand when he says: "How could you have allowed me to do that?" Atleast that is my understanding of that particular question right there, but I don't know. So please get me out doubt, I will appreciated it.

I'm editing this question because I might not have asked correctly.

Now the point of my question is: "Is the use of could have correctly used in this video?"

closed as off-topic by curiousdannii, NVZ, user66974, Phil Sweet, Edwin Ashworth Aug 15 '16 at 10:18

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  • The implication is that the addressee/s should have stopped 'the guy' from doing something inappropriate. 'Why didn't you stop me?' Obviously, your first variant is appropriate, and I believe that in the US especially, the second is used with the same meaning. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 14 '16 at 23:21
  • Yes! yes, I know what the guy ment to say. But I was tought that "how could you have done that" means "how in the world COULD YOU HAVE the possibility to do that" Notice that COULD HAVE is not same as CAN HAVE because the latter is past. Now "how could you have" = "you didn't have the chance" – Manuel Hernandez Aug 14 '16 at 23:35
  • Or simply you couldn't. – Manuel Hernandez Aug 14 '16 at 23:46
  • Edwin Ashworth, please explain the following "the second is used with same meaning". Meaning of what? – Manuel Hernandez Aug 14 '16 at 23:49
  • Please edit this to explain why you think it's totally wrong – curiousdannii Aug 15 '16 at 1:39

You have run into the multiple modal meanings of the word could. Perhaps an example will help. Suppose that your friend, a vice president at the bank, authorizes a loan to you for $50K. You later find out that vice presidents at the bank have the authority to approve loans only up to $25K. So you ask your friend

How could you allow me to have taken out that large a loan?

Here could, as the past tense of can, carries the sense of ability. If the bank didn't give your friend the authority, you want to know how he managed to exercise such authority. Your voice will stress the pronoun you, and the meaning is the same as How did you do it?

Now suppose that your friend the VP actually did have an authorization limit of $50K, he authorized the loan knowing you're a gambling addict, and you lost the $50K in a poker game. Now you go to your friend and ask

How could you allow me to have taken out that large a loan?

Here could expresses a sense of disbelief. After all, a friend shouldn't allow you to harm yourself by indulging your addiction. Now your voice will stress the auxiliary verb could, and you mean I don't understand why as a friend you allowed me to harm myself.

Which interpretation is correct depends on the context.

  • I TOTALLY AGREE with this explanation. However it doesn't clearly respond my question. Although it does imply in a way that the guy used the past modal wrongly. Now I think the guy should have said: "How could you allow me to do that." Instead of: "How could you have allowed me to do that." Am I right? – Manuel Hernandez Aug 15 '16 at 1:32
  • Or better yet "how could you allow me to have done that" in this one I used the construction in your answer thank you so much for that. (; – Manuel Hernandez Aug 15 '16 at 1:42
  • I'm going to take my word back on the comment above I'm not quite sure that is a right construction since have done is in the past – Manuel Hernandez Aug 15 '16 at 2:05
  • @ManuelHernandez Sorry, but I don't understand your question. Consider How could you allow me to do that? and How could you have allowed me to do that? The first can refer to future or past allowance, and the last can refer only to past allowance. – deadrat Aug 15 '16 at 2:09
  • Right right but the second one implies "you could't I understand" and the first one "how could you I don't understand" – Manuel Hernandez Aug 15 '16 at 2:15

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