Can I use "I'd" when I want to say "I could / I should"?

I know "I'd" is "I would / I had" but I was wondering if it is correct saying "I'd" to mean "I could / I should".

  • Short answer: no. Long answer: No.
    – JavaLatte
    May 22, 2020 at 1:49
  • To add to what JavaLatte said: No. May 22, 2020 at 1:55

2 Answers 2


No, you can't use "I'd" for "I could" or "I should." You can use "I'd" only for "I had" or "I would." Like others have said, which one is meant becomes clear from the context.

When someone says, "I'd do that," I understand they mean, "I would do that."

When someone says, "I'd already done that," I understand they mean, "I had already done that."

When a person means "I could do that," or "I should do that," they say the full words just like in those sentences. If, instead, they said, "I'd do that," it would mean "I would do that." The context would not be clear. Thus, the words have to be spoken in full.

  • In a sentence I'd let it happen, learners may get confused at whether it is I would let, or I had let it happen.....Am I right @Sarah Bowman?
    – Ram Pillai
    May 22, 2020 at 5:29
  • I don't think learners will get confused about "would" and "had." The learners I meet on here are pretty strong on tenses of past, present, future, the perfect tenses, etc. Would and had are not at all the same tense but distinctly different so I think it is clear to learners which one should be used when. Maybe native speakers get confused. May 22, 2020 at 11:06

Short answer: no. Slightly longer answer: as you stated, I'd can stand in for more than thing. That works because the context tells you what they are stand in for. In the following example, the first sentence is what you would say, and it is clear that he second sentence is the intended meaning because the third sentence is not grammatically correct.

I'd already finished dinner when they arrived
I had already finished dinner when they arrived
I would already finished dinner when they arrived

With could and should, the context would not be able to tell you what they stand in for, for example both of the following sentences are grammatically correct.

I could visit my parents today
I should visit my parents today

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