in the Vikings main title song there are two similar sentences:

If I had a heart I could love you
If I had a voice I would sing

the first sentence can't be "If I had a heart I would love you"(like the second sentence)? what is the difference between using could and would here?

  • What is the Vikings main title song? Please add a reference. – user22427 Aug 17 '18 at 14:25
  • The singer is singing: "If I had a voice I would sing." Ha! – Chowzen Aug 17 '18 at 14:37

The difference lies in having the mere ability to do something and choosing to do something that you are able to do.

If he had a heart, he would be able to love.

If he had a voice, he would choose to sing.

If I had the money, I could buy it. ability

If I had the money, I would buy it. intention

Having the ability to do something does not necessarily mean that you would actually do it.

If I had the money, I could buy it. I wish I had the money to buy it! I want it!

If I had the money, I could buy it. But it is a foolish extravagance and I would never buy something like that!

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The use of "could" implies that if the singer had a heart, loving the subject is something they would want to do but there may be other factors that get in the way - knowing Vikings, the looting & pillaging comes first and the lovin' comes second.

It may just be a way to have each line sound similar but by using could instead of would it gives a subtle indication that even if the singer could have their way and devote themselves to loving, that choice might not be theirs to make anyway.

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To me, the singer is implying that he/she does not have a heart. Therefore they cannot love the object of his affection.
In the second sentiment, they also imply that they do not have a voice, but if they did, they would sing.

The "if I had" phrase makes the would/could subject moot (Adj. 2. of little or no practical value, meaning, or relevance; purely academic). It doesn't matter what they would or could do, it's impossible.

The reasoning behind using one word in the first phrase and another in the second phrase is most likely poetic in nature, i.e. it sounds better than saying would or could in both phrases.

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