Questions tagged [could]

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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 ...
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could not for present impossibility

Are the following sentences with "could not" correct? I want "could not" to mean impossibility. Peter could not be in the garden now. Peter could not be working in the garden now. Peter could ...
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1answer
26 views

“could” possibility for present

Are the following sentences correct with the word "could" to mean possibility? Peter could be in the garden now. Peter could be working in the garden now. Peter could go fishing every day. I have ...
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“Could be” vs “Could have been”

"it could be rain yesterday" or "it could have been rained yesterday" Which one is correct? When we talk about a past event, actually didn't happen.
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Avoiding “was able to be” in the passive voice

Considering https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/could (point "Could + smell, taste, think, believe, etc."), I assume that one is allowed to use "could" to refer to single ...
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51 views

Is it grammatically correct to use could in this wish-clause?

You don't own a motorbike and you need one. You say:________________________ (own). (a)I wish I owned a motorbike. (b)I wish I could own a motorbike. This is one of the questions in the test I gave ...
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1answer
55 views

“Could”: past and conditional question

I have a doubt about the use of could. I know that could is the past simple of can, and is also used in conditional constructions. How native speakers distinguish one usage from the other in ...
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1answer
67 views

How can one use 'would' and 'could' both, consecutively?

I encountered a sentence in an article. The writer (an Australian) has used both 'could' and 'would' consecutively in a sentence. The sentence is But I was determined to make a statement: would ...
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1answer
58 views

Usage of “could” vs “could have” when criticising someone for doing something

I was watching a film about a man who had a secret from his family, at some point in the film the wife finds out about it and says: "How could you do this to us?" - "Could do" in this context is not ...
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1answer
47 views

Could - was able to [closed]

I know that when people refer to a single past occasion (one-off action) the usage of "was able to" is correct while "could" is not: "But when the time came I could pull the trigger". (this sentence ...
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1answer
129 views

“Could” with verbs of perception (was/were able to) vs Expressing specific action in the past [closed]

I'm puzzled about the usage of a modal verb could. My book "LONGMAN ENGLISH GRAMMAR PRACTICE" by L.G Alexander says that We use was/were able to or managed to (not could) to describe the ...
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50 views

The use of 'how could …' in past tense situations

A grammatical issue has been bugging me for some time, and I just can't seem to wrap my head around it. If I'm writing in the past tense and questioning the ability to do something or the possibility ...
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Meaning of “could” in a question. Implied condition

I have a question concerning the meaning of "could" in this sentence: "It could refer back to the subject, Jane, or it could refer to somebody else." As I understand this, there's an implied ...
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297 views

Meaning of “could” in these sentences

Good day everyone. So I have Michael Swan's grammar book "Practical English Usage" and there's a couple of sections concerning to usage of "could". So in 82.3 it says that we use could to talk about ...
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198 views

The rebels [could / were able to] draw on the support of over 20,000 soldiers

I don't understand why both are correct answers. Isn't it supposed to use [be able to] rather than [could] if the situation is a specific event in a specific moment, which I think is this case? For ...
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1answer
73 views

In this sentence, “could” what meaning does it have?

"I sought only to open your eyes to the world we could create together." In this phrase, does "could" refer to the past or is it a possibility about something that could happen in the future? The ...
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1answer
55 views

COULD vs. COULD HAVE when talking about the past [duplicate]

I have long had difficulty distinguishing between COULD and COULD HAVE. I have two specific examples that I'm not exactly sure of. Could you enlighten me? She needed money so much, she could even ...
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2k views

What words can replace the conditional words “could” and would"?

The words "could" and "would" are very common words in the English Language. However, they are not always the best words to use. I am trying to find better words to replace "could" and "would". Note ...
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1answer
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Speculating about past using could [closed]

Is the following sentence correct "could messi have scored that goal?"
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1answer
1k views

Is it past tense or present tense after the word “could”?

There is yet a law that regulates it, which then could backfire and put him in danger. There is yet a law that regulates it, which then could backfired and put him in danger.
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Could you please update something in a way

I would like to ask somebody to update something using the phrase "Could you please update something" and I would like to add some explanation on what I expect as a result from that update but I'm not ...
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1answer
258 views

first conditional could modal

I'm trying to clarify why this sentence seems wrong: If there is no strict definition, everyone could understand migration slightly differently. My initial response was that it was wrong, but why?...
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1answer
190 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 ...
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4k views

'Could have' vs. 'Would have been able to' in a Type-III Conditional

This type-III conditional sentence, “I could not have played volleyball when I was an elementary school student if I had been short.” should be (I think) changed to: “I would not have been ...
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1answer
438 views

If you say you couldn't does it mean you can now?

If you use couldn't does it mean you can/ do now? E.g. 1. I tried to fix the machine but I couldn't figure out the problem. (Does it mean I do now?) 2. I was admitted to hospital but they couldn't ...
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What does it mean “From what could only have”? [closed]

I saw this sentence, and am wondering what does it mean. I also found a shard of glass from what could only have been a Heineken
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2answers
2k views

How many legitimate uses of “could of” / “would of” / “should of” are there?

After some bad calls using search/replace, I'm curious how many legitimate forms of "could/would/should of" there are. I'm interested in uses that do not derive from, and cannot be replaced by "could ...
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285 views

Usage of “could” showing general ability in past

For example, I want to tell someone that earlier it was possible to send telegrams through post offices. (Past ability of post office to send telegrams, which is not in service now.) So which of the ...
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1answer
7k views

what happened vs what could have happened?

What is the difference between 'what happened?' and 'what could have happened? 1) I couldn't see Gina last month. Do you know what happened to her? (or Do you know what could have happened to her?) ...
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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
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822 views

Using could not for possibility/impossibility

Can I use ''could not'' form to say that somebody would not be capable of doing something? Example: He was a popular singer back in the 90's. But I'm sure that he couldn't fill a concert hall (...
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1answer
46 views

How does Should/Could/Might/… affect the following verbs [closed]

Which sentence is correct? (1) One should avoid the configurations indicated by (i) and (ii), and focuses on setting the values of .... (2) One should avoid the configurations indicated by (i) and (...
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2answers
212 views

I don't understand what is wrong with this sentence. Can anyone help?

The sentence is: The bank manager was told not to hold him back, so this man could escape It is illustrated in a book as containing an error. The writer reports how judges responded to it and ...
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1answer
127 views

Couldn't have put VS couldn't put [duplicate]

Today I came across the following phrase: He couldn't have put it better, when he said: "..." But why does it require perfect tense? Can it be replaced with simple tense instead? He couldn't ...
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39 views

Couldn't and would

I read a quote from "House of cards" that went like: "You're are my best friend, John. I couldn't have it off with my best friend. It would be embarrassing." Is it of any difference if I change "...
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103 views

Could vs c̶o̶u̶l̶d̶n̶'̶t̶ may not?

I've seen situations in which they said these phrases: "[...] That could be dead or may not be" (Jim Carrey's phrase in a Series of Unfortunate events) "(=if we had one, it could or it may not be ...
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4answers
818 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 ...
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1answer
216 views

How to use 'could'

I actually called her, but before I could finish my sentence she cut me off and told me that she was pregnant. In this sentence, I can't understand why 'could' is needed. How about just 'finished'?
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262 views

I could hear something rattling/rattle

The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Huddleston and Pullum) says under the section "Past time could" at page 197 that it is possible to say (1) I could hear something rattling. [...
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651 views

Grammar correctness of “could” sentence

I would like to know whether the following is correct: Someone is knocking on your door. Who could it be? As far as I know, modal verbs do not change its form in reported speech: He asked ...