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Questions tagged [can-could]

For questions about the difference between "can" and "could". This tag should also be used for questions about the interchangeability of the two words in a particular context.

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Max couldn’t go out after dark. <permission at a past time?>

A linguistics paper titled "Tense and Modals" by Tim Stowell shows these examples and explains them as follows: (9) a. Carl can’t move his arm. (ability at the utterance time) b. Carl ...
JK2's user avatar
  • 6,573
2 votes
1 answer
115 views

Is "Could you help me move these boxes?" interpreted as deontic or dynamic when it comes to the modality families?

I have a problem with the following clause: Could you help me move these boxes? I would like to know for my upcoming English test that if this clause is interpreted as epistemic, deontic or dynamic. ...
noorav's user avatar
  • 137
0 votes
1 answer
498 views

Meaning of 'could have done something'? [closed]

In the following sentence, If you had tried harder you could have succeeded. does could have succeeded mean would have been able to succeed, or might have been able to succed, or is it ambiguous if ...
user58319's user avatar
  • 4,102
0 votes
0 answers
34 views

What are the differences between "could" and "can" when stating a possibility?

For demanding payments there are two ways to say : You could transfer to this account You can transfer to this account Both make a grammatical sentence. Are there subtle differences between them I ...
ishita's user avatar
  • 1
0 votes
2 answers
136 views

Can vs Could usage differences

He goes to London every month so that he can see his ailing father. He goes to London every month so that he could see his ailing father. Which of the above sentences is correct?? My friends are ...
ramteja guthikonda's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
6k views

What is the difference between "Can ever" and "Could ever"

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 ...
darya meoww's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
4k views

Can you marry me? vs Will you marry me?

I'm having a hard time explaining to my students "Can you marry me?" is not the right question to ask while proposing to someone. Likewise; "Will you dance with me?" sounds perfectly natural while "...
noudi alp's user avatar
  • 361
0 votes
2 answers
241 views

Can I use the verb 'to do' to emphasize the verb 'can'?

The verb 'to do' can be used to emphasize things, e.g.: I do understand it. Can it be used to emphasize a sentence that uses the verb 'can'? E.g.: I do can play football. If not, how could I achieve ...
Martel's user avatar
  • 113
1 vote
1 answer
82 views

Why is "can" so often preferred over "could" in hypothetical questions in media headlines?

Just some examples from the media: Can planting billions of trees save the planet? Can modular homes solve the UK's housing crisis? Can the Democrats Do Better Than Trump on North Korea? Don’t Assume ...
NoDataDumpNoContribution's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
251 views

"Can" or "could" in the mentioned sentence?

Could / Can Happiness bring pain? The above sentence is not meant to mean the past time. "Could", and not "can", is used for past. So, "can" is preferable in the sentence? On the other hand, the ...
Sasan's user avatar
  • 3,434
1 vote
1 answer
589 views

can vs could in an informal request

Could anyone help me with can vs could in a request? I know 'can' is used in an informal way 'Hi bro, can I use your pen?' and 'could' in a formal way 'Excuse me, could I use your pen please?' But ...
David's user avatar
  • 67
0 votes
2 answers
4k views

Is it correct to use "could" when confirming something? [duplicate]

"I just want to confirm that I could be included in the committee although I am no longer affiliated with the university" Is the sentence above correct or should I use "can" instead of "could"?
Yan1's user avatar
  • 1
3 votes
1 answer
109 views

Can and Could's usage?

Always I appreciate your answers. Today I made a list of the usage of Can and Could for my better understanding for English. Though, I am still getting used to with this site. Therefore, my list is ...
dolco's user avatar
  • 133
3 votes
1 answer
2k views

"How could I" and "how could I have" in rhetorical questions

I have a question about using could and could have in rhetorical questions. I was watching a video where a very old man who was talking to a priest about his childhood asked the priest, “How could I ...
Nostradamus's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
327 views

Is "could" interchangeable with "can"? [duplicate]

Is "could" interchangeable with "can"? for example, there are coversations like these: example. 1 A: I could run faster than you. B: No way. In this case, the "could" is referring to ...
user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
1k views

inversion with "could" in conditionals

This well-known grammar trick to sound more formal with "were" "had" and "should" in conditional sentences. Is it possible to use it with "could" (and even "might")? "If I could do it, it would be......
user183588's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
2k views

So, we don't have "can have + PP" in English, do we? but we do have "can't have +PP", don't we?

Modal verbs like can, could, may, might,.... are very difficult & arbitrary. According to this site: can't have + past participle: I'm fairly sure this wasn't true Ex: She can't have ...
Tom's user avatar
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-2 votes
1 answer
633 views

Which is the polite reminder in this case?

I was asking someone to do me a small favour last week, and I know he didn't do it yet. So, I would like to ask him very politely if he did it or not, so he will remember to do it. Which is the right ...
Cloe's user avatar
  • 1
0 votes
1 answer
993 views

The usage of "could" and "can" in questions [duplicate]

Which of the following is more appropriate? Can you go? Could you go? Is there anything wrong in asking like this "Could you go?"
Joann's user avatar
  • 129
1 vote
0 answers
63 views

Difference between can & could [duplicate]

What is the difference between the following sentences? for me both are same. you can search it in google & you could search it in google
Joann's user avatar
  • 129
1 vote
1 answer
1k views

could or allowed to

Are both examples acceptable? As I had to go to the dentist, I was allowed to leave work early As I had to go to the dentist, I could leave work early. Does the implied permission legitimise the ...
mscola1975's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
9k views

Difference between "can't do" and "can't be doing"

What is the difference between the sentences "I can't do this" and "I can't be doing this"?
krtgnc's user avatar
  • 81
-1 votes
1 answer
134 views

The 'can' confusion [closed]

Every time there is a lesson on modals I am taught that the modal 'can' is about ability. How should I determine when 'can' literally means ability, and when it is just a request? Does the question '...
Vladimir's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
191 views

Modals usage can/could [closed]

We were checking some exercises and I wanted to know what's the correct modal to use: Gemma is away in Australia all summer. You ___ (can / see) her yesterday! The answer is can't have seen, which ...
Schwale's user avatar
  • 465
0 votes
1 answer
118 views

present/conditional tense agreement?

Is the following sentence (from a cookbook) grammatically correct? "I am fairly certain that nothing could possibly go wrong when eggs and tomatoes intersect." After this sentence, the author ...
Lucas Culler's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
2k views

"can give" or "could give" as second verb in a past sentence [closed]

I have the following 2 sentences: "what Pablo said can give you a hint" "what Pablo said could give you a hint" Are they both correct? if no, which one and why? Thank you very much
Youssef's user avatar
  • 165
0 votes
2 answers
442 views

Usage of 'can't'

Please look at this sentence: " I can't do the fourth and fifth questions but I have done all the other questions" is this correct? Because in first part present tense is used with the usage of "do"...
user avatar
0 votes
4 answers
1k views

Does "Could I ...?" always sound more polite than "Can I ...?"?

For example, if I say Could I borrow your pen? Does it sound more polite than Can I borrow your pen? I am not a native English speaker, but I rarely hear someone says "Could I ...?". Isn't ...
mutyo's user avatar
  • 1
3 votes
1 answer
2k views

Difference in the usage? ; It "can / could / must" be something serious

I'm teaching English in Japan. I'm using "Grammar In Use Intermediate Workbook" (Cambridge). The following is the question in the workbook: Complete the sentence. Use can, could, must or (...
Japanese English teacher's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
112 views

If XYZ can or could?

I am drafting an invitation to some clients regarding an event our company is holding. The template I am going off suggests closing the email with: "It will be great if [FIRM] can RSVP by March 20th"...
PEWPEPEPWPE's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
1k views

Why is it "could" and not "can" in the famous line: "If a face could launch a thousand ships"? [duplicate]

This is from a song lyric If a picture paints a thousand words, Then why can't I paint you? The words will never show the you I've come to know. If a face could launch a thousand ships, ...
user4951's user avatar
  • 2,085
1 vote
2 answers
2k views

Difference beween requests “can”, “could” and “may”? [duplicate]

We can use can, could, and may for requests and permissions, but is there any difference between the meanings of the following three versions? May I go? Can I go? Could I go?
saad's user avatar
  • 11
0 votes
1 answer
181 views

Can I use 'could' instead of 'might' in this unreal situation?

Are might and could exchangeable in this unreal situation? If I were in Tom's position, I think I might look for another job.
Saleh's user avatar
  • 17
0 votes
2 answers
982 views

Which sentence is wrong? [closed]

Take a look at this part of a conversation: A: I got very wet walking home in the rain last night. |1. You could have taken a taxi. B: Why did you walk? |2. You could take a ...
Saleh's user avatar
  • 17
1 vote
1 answer
1k views

could and might to talk about future possibility

I have problem with using could in the future possibilities for example: They have the technology, but unless the government makes stricter laws, car companies ____ do it. With which one should I ...
Flash's user avatar
  • 13
5 votes
5 answers
6k views

If only you could see what I have seen with your eyes

I watch film science fiction The Blade Runer and man says this sentence. he is holding eye in his hand. I see in in a subtitle but I am not understanding this meaning. Can my friends in a Language and ...
The Beefer Fan's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
250 views

Past or present to explain an active state in a past sentence

So, I have a sentence, more or less like this: "Gil, who HAS a psychokinesis ability, studied math yesterday." or "Gil, who CAN move things without touching them, studied math yesterday."...
Konayuki's user avatar
  • 155
4 votes
3 answers
13k views

Are "should've", "could've", etc. valid short forms of "should have" and "could have"?

This is interesting - if I write "should've" (for "should have"), my spell checker underlines the word. Same happens if I do "could've" (for "could have"). I use these forms but I'm starting to ...
bodacydo's user avatar
  • 1,099
1 vote
1 answer
31k views

Meaning of the phrase "I could tell" [closed]

Context: I was so happy I felt tears starting in my eyes, and then she up and hugged me. I think she could tell.
Igor V. Novokshonov's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
56k views

Is it incorrect to say "If you could"?

I tend to use the following construction often in my e-mails: It would be great if you could... However my German colleague repeatedly reminds me that according to the rules he was taught, using "...
vahidg's user avatar
  • 173
8 votes
5 answers
5k views

Is the structure "can have verb-ed" possible?

I have seen and heard sentences like these: He could have gone too far. John can't have eaten all the cake. But I don't seem to encounter this structure: She can have done the work. I tried ...
KSS's user avatar
  • 151
1 vote
3 answers
3k views

"Can I have one apple from your box?" vs "Could I have one apple from your box?" [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When do I use “can” or “could”? I was doing some reading on usage of can and could. I understand that can is used when asking for ability, and could for willingness. I would ...
Cracker's user avatar
  • 121
8 votes
4 answers
95k views

"Can have" vs. "could have"

One often hears primarily people from the UK using the phrase can have in certain past tenses. What exactly is the difference between using could have and can have? I used to believe that can turns ...
Swizec Teller's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
56k views

"Can" vs. "could" in asking a question [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When do I use “can” or “could”? I am a little bit confused about asking a question: Can you please tell me my next work? or Could you please tell me my next work? ...
sri's user avatar
  • 229
11 votes
4 answers
60k views

Is either "can" or "could" more polite? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When do I use “can” or “could”? I wonder which of the following is more polite: Can you please change my email address? Could you please change my email address? ...
Johannes Schaub - litb's user avatar
13 votes
3 answers
45k views

When should we use "can", "could", "will", "would"?

Most people say I wish I could, I wish you would. Can we use I wish I can, I wish you will? I'd like to know what the main differences between the usage of can/will and could/would are when ...
user2457's user avatar
  • 227
59 votes
6 answers
188k views

When do I use "can" or "could"?

When should I use can? When should I use could? What is right under what context?
Ramprasad Prabhakar's user avatar