Could/can any native english speaker tell me what the difference between 'can' and 'could' in the following sentences is. And, are they interchangeable in the following context? What Difference do the words can and could create when making a request or an offer?

Here are the examples:

  • Suppose, I am looking for a particular bank but I don't know where the bank is. I meet an old man and want to know the direction of the bank from him. So I ask him "Can/Could you please tell me where the bank is?"

  • Can/Could anyone please teach me how to share videos and photos on Facebook?

As usual, if there is anything ungrammatical in the writing, please correct it.

  • "Could" is more polite than "can". That's about it.
    – Andrew
    Dec 27, 2017 at 16:04

1 Answer 1


In your examples can and could are used to ask a question. They also function to make your request sound more polite.

if you just say Tell me where the bank is. then this becomes a demand.

As Andrew says could sounds a little softer.

In your second sentence you can use either can or could to make a request (asking someone to help you with Facebook) However, it is also asking someone if they have the ability to teach you how to use Facebook, etc.

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