In this sentence:

I looked very carefully, and I ________ see someone in the distance.

Is the missing word "could", or "managed to"?

I have been told the correct answer is "could", but I think this is "managed to", because I looked really carefully.

  • 4
    Please edit to remove the image and replace it by text. Images can't be indexed or searched, and not everyone can see them.
    – James K
    Jun 29, 2018 at 5:11
  • Either "could" or "managed to" make sense. Including "very carefully" does make it kind of ambiguous. The grammar used is also a bit forced for the purpose of the lesson. I'd say: "I looked carefully, and saw someone in the distance." ... A simple, active past-tense verb sounds more natural to me as a U.S. English speaker ... Using "[subject] had [verbed]" also sounds more like recalling a distant memory or retelling a story (which way is more proper, I can't say). Rather: "She gave us good directions, so we didn't get lost ... " "I forgot my camera, so I couldn't take any photos."
    – mc01
    Jun 29, 2018 at 6:36

1 Answer 1


‘Managed To’ means where you tried very hard and achieved something over time. For example: “After hours of discussing with my friend, we finally managed to solve the riddle.”

However, could basically means you can. You don’t need a lot of effort to see something. I could see someone in the distance just means I can see someone in the distance, but in past tense.

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