0

1). He was a popular singer back in the 90's. But I'm sure that he couldn’t fill a concert hall now.

2). He was a popular singer back in the 90's. But I'm sure that he can’t fill a concert hall now.

What is the difference in meaning between these two sentences? I know could is used for hypothetical cases. But what is the possible hypothetical case in the sentence1?

3 Answers 3

1

But what is the possible hypothetical case in the sentence1?

The hypothetical case in 1 is if he held a concert.

Sentence 2 assumes that he is in fact planning to hold a concert, or has recently tried and failed to do so.

0
  • Could (have the potential)

  • Can (have the ability)

  1. Couldn’t fill a concert hall (lack potential of filling a concert hall)
  1. Can't fill a concert hall (lack ability to fill a concert hall)

If 'couldn’t' is the past tense of 'can', then it means the same as #2

0

He can't fill a concert hall is an actual observation: either he has tried to, and it's been half empty, or he's used smaller venues and they have been adequate.

He couldn't fill a concert hall implies that it hasn't been tried: it's a hypothetical, and if he tried to, he would not succeed.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .