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After a concert: We are astonished until now. Did you hear the notes that girl could/can reach?

Which one should I use: "could reach" or "can reach"?

Or are both correct for this kind of question?

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    (+1) I wouldn't use can because my ears are more familar with the could version. I am a learner though, and in an indirect speach case like this, the could version sounds more idiomatic to me for some reason. I don't know why! Maybe I am wrong? – Cardinal Jun 3 '19 at 5:49
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    Hi, thanks for your help. The 'could' choice sounds more natural to me as well, but I was in doubt because, as stated in the phrase, she was able to reach some high notes during the concert, but somehow I think it was implicit that she would be able to reach those notes at any time, so maybe 'can' could also be used. I'm not sure if I can explain myself clearly. Once again, thanks for your help. – Itamar Jun 3 '19 at 6:04
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Did you hear the notes that girl could/can reach?

Firstly, Im going to state that "Did you hear the notes that girl can reach?" Is an incorrect sentence. There are two contradicting words here, Did references a question of the past or "have already done" and can references a question or answer for something able to do/able to be done at the present time. Could also references something that would've/possibly been done already (past reference)

for DID/COULD: (Past tense)

Did you hear the notes that girl could reach?

for CAN/CAN (Present tense)

Can you hear the notes that girl can reach?

So, for your sentence, it would be:

After a concert: We are astonished until now. Did you hear the notes that girl could reach?

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    Excellent. Thanks a lot for the explanation, Taylor. I asked this question because in Portuguese (my native language) we can use both tenses, the past and the present, in these kind of phrase and it's fine. If we use "she could reach" it means that we are referring exclusively to the notes she could reach during the concert, maybe we're not sure that she could reach those same notes again in the future, maybe we even doubt she can. And if we use "she can reach" it means that we think, or even we are sure, that she can reach those notes at any time, Hope that makes sense. Thanks again. – Itamar Jun 3 '19 at 19:25
  • Are you sure it's a reference problem, I think using present time with past time at the same is very common in indirect speech. I mean we don't do the backshifting when want to imply something is still true. He said that he is a doctor. This one is correct, right? – Cardinal Jun 3 '19 at 20:30

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