It would be helpful if you could provide us further details.

Is the use of could wrong here? Should it be

It would be helpful if you provide us further details.

What is the rule when should we just stick to the present form without any helping verb?

  • 1
    I edited your title to make it more descriptive and inserted what I think is the example of how you think the sentence should be phrased. If you don't like these edits, you may edit the question yourself to rollback my edits. – Kit Z. Fox Sep 9 '11 at 12:54
  • definitely it's more descriptive – Ehtesham Sep 9 '11 at 12:59

"Could" here acts as a "buffer word" - a word which is not grammatically necessary, but which adds a sort of tentative quality, which softens the request and makes it feel more polite.

It could be readily replaced by "would" or "were to" - all softening the bald request by adding a tentative quality. ("It would be helpful" is already doing this, relative to "Provide us further details", which would be very peremptory).

Without the "could", it still needs a bit of attention because the tenses are wrong: with the condition "would", you need a past form (historically, a past subjunctive, but that's irrelevant today) in the main clause, so:

It would be helpful if you provided us further details.

Alternatively without the conditional:

It will be helpful if you provide us further details.

  • very nicely done! – Ehtesham Sep 9 '11 at 20:25

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