Im just wondering what's differences between can and could. For example in this sentence.

  • Do you think we can ever get there?
  • Do you think we could ever get there?

I know that "could" is better but why? I've found some examples with " we can ever" too.

  • 1
    This is not about can and could. Both of the sentences are questions, and questions are negative triggers. Hence ever is grammatical; but if you make statements out of them, neither could nor can will work because ever is an NPI. And how do you know that could is better? Who says? – John Lawler Jun 23 '20 at 19:26
  • If "could" is supposed to be better, "Do you think we will ever be able to get there?" and "Do you think that it will ever be possible for us to get there?" would be the "better" ways of saying it. (I'm not actually saying they're better, I'm saying "could" really is no better than "can") Also, if you look at the differences between the two sentences I just wrote, I feel they illustrate the difference between "can" and "could" as you have given in your examples. – Ron Kyle Jun 23 '20 at 21:52
  • Can can mean capable of, while could can mean do you think we will. They two words can have specific different meanings, so neither is objectively better than the other without specific context. – Jason Bassford Jun 24 '20 at 17:11

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