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Questions about compound verbs constructed using one of “would”, “should”, or “could” along with “have” and a past participle. For example: “I would have called her earlier if only I had known she wanted to go.”

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Why couldn't I <have killed vs. kill> that dragon when I found him in the woods?

The kill version indicates that he tried but failed. Q: Why couldn’t I pull the sword from the stone? A: Because you aren’t King Arthur. The have killed version indicates thinking about a choice d …
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