The teacher said

Stop talking and be quiet so that we could start the lesson.

Could you tell me why did the teacher use could. Any answer will be appreciated.

  • 1
    Interestingly, that would be almost right if it was reported speech - the teacher said to stop talking and be quiet so that we could start the lesson - because reported speech has time based on the surrounding text, thus modals (as with other verbs) shift into the past (in this case).
    – SamBC
    Apr 9 '19 at 16:04
  • Sounds to me like the teacher slightly changed their mind about what they were going to say. In other words, if they had a second chance, I don't think they would have said the same thing. Is this teacher a native speaker? Apr 9 '19 at 16:07

Could is more polite than can, but I don't recall the last time I heard someone use it in a sentence like yours.

I would almost always expect to hear:

Stop talking and be quiet so (that) we can start the lesson.

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