0

When talking about past situations is it wrong to use "could with an infinitive" instead of "could have done"? In these senteces below and in conditional senteces such as "If I had more time I could have written two reports. Or "I could write."

1."Passengers could have taken other smaller transatlantic ships."

2."The captain could have chosen a more southern transatlantic route."

3."The owners could have pressed designers to include more safety flotation compartments."

  1. "Watchmen could have asked the captain to slow down due to fog."
1

When talking about past situations is it wrong to use "could with an infinitive"

Lets look at your example.

"If I had more time I could have written two reports.

This is past tense as you stated in your introduction, now lets look at the use of "could with an infinitive" bearing in mind that an infinitive takes the base form of a verb (the simple form of the verb that you would find in the dictionary).

"If I had more time I could write two reports "

Here we see the grammar is correct but the tense has changed, we have also ignored the fact that in most cases "An infinitive usually begins with the word “to” and is followed by the base form of a verb" Which would leave us with the sentence.

"If I had more time I could to write two reports "

Therefore I think we have demonstrated that When talking about past situations it is wrong to use "could with an infinitive"

Ref What is an infinitive?

1

All your examples are grammatical. The third and fourth use could have pressed and could have asked not with an infinitive, but with an infinitive clause as complement.

This use can occur with other tenses, too.
He could ask the captain to slow down.
He asked the captain to slow down.

8
  • Are these example also correct? "If I had more time I could write two reports" and "If I had had more time I could have written or could write two reports." Jun 8 at 15:16
  • 1
    The first example is correct; the second example is correct but strange. It wouldn't be strange if you took just one of two tenses. Jun 8 at 15:30
  • I thought I should use the conditional structure in 2. The first sentence doesn't refer to the past. I mean if I had more time now... Why is it wrong to use the past perfect and could have done together? Jun 8 at 16:25
  • 1. "If he didn't say "Hello", he couldn't have seen you". 2. "If he didn't say "Hello", he couldn't see you." 3. "If he hadn't said "Hello", he couldn't have seen you." 4. "If he hadn't said "Hello", he couldn't see you." Jun 8 at 16:27
  • 1
    Actually, I said both sentences are correct, but it's strange to use "could have written or could write", both in the same sentence. Jun 8 at 20:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.