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"Who killed him? You?"

"No. Had I been able, I would have but I wasn't, so I didn't."

Is this correct and is there a construction with could with a similar meaning?

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  • In your example you've "deleted" the word able after wasn't - which is perfectly natural, since it's obvious that in principle what you're saying is [but] I wasn't able [to kill him]. But you could just as well have said ...but I couldn't [kill him]. That switch doesn't depend on having used could earlier. Note that your Had I been able is poetic/archaic/archaic phrasing, best avoided in any normal modern context. Jul 20 '17 at 17:11
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The sentence seems fine to me. Some might prefer including "to" after "able", but I don't think that's necessary or particularly important here. As for a similarly constructed sentence using could:

No. If I could have, I would have, but I couldn't, so I didn't.

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