(1) We could create a product that helps people in need.

(2) We can create a product that helps people in need.

(3) We could create a product that could help people in need.

Between those three, (2) sounds the best to me. However, is (1) necessarily incorrect? More specifically, I'm concerned about whether it is permissible to use "helps" after "could." It sounds like some breach of tense agreement, but I can't be sure.

  • Why do you think there's a breach of tense agreement? – BillJ Oct 25 '17 at 15:57
  • @BillJ Likely because "could" seems to be in past tense but "helps" is in present tense. – lightweaver Oct 26 '17 at 2:30
  • Yes, "could" is the past tense of "can" and it can of course be used with past time meaning. But it can also be used with present time meaning e.g. "We could be in Africa now for all we know", or with future time meaning, e.g. in conditionals like "We'd save a lot of money if you could cycle to work" and in polite requests like "Could you help me next week", etc. So your examples are all fine – BillJ Oct 26 '17 at 7:15

(1) could be a suggestion or the past form of (2). It is no less correct than (2).

Helps is a verb in a relative clause with that being the subject. You can think of it as: 'The product helps people in need', where it agrees with The product, which that replaces.

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