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  1. I couldn't gush over him enough
  2. I can't gush over him enough

Which one is correct and why?

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  • What is the context? Are you writing in past or present tense?
    – Aaron
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 4:02
  • He's a great guy I can't /couldn't gush over him enough
    – noraan
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 4:40
  • Neither, please!
    – Tuffy
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 7:40
  • Sorry, I should explain. The word ‘gush’ in your context already connotes excessive praise. So you are in effect saying that you couldn’t engage in enough excessive adoration of him. Unless you are being witty. If so, either will do, though I personally prefer couldn’t: it’s more gushing!
    – Tuffy
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 7:49

2 Answers 2

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The two are equally correct based on context.

Frequently the two modal auxiliaries can and could are grouped together as a single entity. can being analyzed as present tense and could being analyzed as past tense.

So in your first sentence,

I couldn't gush over him enough

You are discussing something which happened in the past.

and in,

I can't gush over him enough

You are discussing something happening in the present.

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Taken from Mithun's answer on "When do I use “can” or “could”?":

1. Ability

In the first situation, we use can with a meaning of ability. For example, "I think I can lift the box" means that the speaker thinks that she/he is able to lift the box. The past tense form of the sentence is "I thought I could lift the box".

In your case, I believe your sentence would be synonymous to "I don't have the ability to gush over him enough." You would, therefore, want to use can in this case:

"I can't gush over him enough."

It should also be noted this depends on the tense. If you are writing in past tense, you should use couldn't. I would suggest reading the question I linked above, learned something myself from the answers.

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