Be careful climbing that tree. You (can / could) fall.

The answer is "could".

I would choose "could" if I had to, but I can't seem to explain why "can" doesn't work here.

  • 2
    "Can" can work here. Apr 18, 2022 at 4:47
  • Can is more often used of things a person might want to do rather than a risk they run. Apr 18, 2022 at 7:40

1 Answer 1


Both "can" and "could" can be used here, but "could" sounds better.

"Can" usually means the ability of someone to do something, but in this case it uses the other meaning of "possibility of something happening", so "could" would be slightly better

As what @KateBunting has said, "Can" is more often used of things a person might want to do rather than a risk they run, so if you had the choice in this case, pick "could", as in this context the person is probably getting something (maybe not running up the tree for fun).

Not only does it sound better using "could", if you say "you can fall" to someone, sounds as though you think they might want to!

  • There's no context provided here. So I wonder why you--and apparently the author of this test question--would presume that "you are quite unsure whether you would fall off the tree". For example, the speaker might know something about that tree and have a reason to believe that you would fall if you climbed it.
    – listeneva
    Apr 18, 2022 at 4:09
  • my bad @listeneva ill change my answer
    – DialFrost
    Apr 18, 2022 at 4:42
  • @listeneva issit better now?
    – DialFrost
    Apr 18, 2022 at 6:45
  • Yes, but the test question doesn't seem to agree with you. They say you need could, not can. english-practice.net/…
    – listeneva
    Apr 18, 2022 at 7:54
  • I mean, both can be used, "could" is definitely clearer and better, but in tests, you can only have 1 correct option, so choose the better one! :) @listeneva
    – DialFrost
    Apr 18, 2022 at 7:56

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