Can we use Could to express future tense? instated of Will/would?


a) How we could change our plan tomorrow?

b) How we could recover our bill from him tomorrow?

  • You mean to express future time, not tense (English does not have a future tense). Both your sentences are ungrammatical since they require subject-auxiliary inversion: "How could we change our plan tomorrow?" / "How could we recover our bill from him tomorrow?" "Could" is typically used in conditional constructions, so I think "can" would be a better option here.
    – BillJ
    Dec 18, 2018 at 10:23

1 Answer 1


will is about something that definitely will take place at some time in the future, whereas can is talking about the ability to do something.

We will change our plan - we will definitely do it
We can change our plan - we are able to do it.

When you put the how question word in front of it, it weakens the difference between the two, because the question is clearly about the method we will use, rather than whether it will happen / whether we are able to make it happen.

could and would are the past tense forms of can and will. If we use a past tense to talk about a future situation, this is called a backshift. A backshift is used to indicate that we are reporting what somebody else said, or that we are talking about a hypothetical situation.

Could we change our plan? - hypothetically, are we able to change our plan?
Would we change our plan? - hypothetically, would we consider changing our plan?

Note that, when we ask a question, we invert the subject and the auxiliary verb:

We could change our plan tomorrow. - statement
How could we change our plan tomorrow? - question

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