You can use my pen

You could use my pen

What's the difference? Can we use could for advice?


2 Answers 2


If someone asks you if you can use your pen, you would probably reply

Yes, you can use my pen

and not

Yes, you could use my pen

As using "could" implies that you might or might not give the person your pen, while "can" implies that they can use your pen

Definition of could for reference:

could: used to indicate possibility


It is certainly possible to use could for a suggestion, which is a kind of advice.

You could take the train.

You could use a hammer.

In the case of you could use my pen it could also be about giving permission, and it might be ambiguous whether it is permission or suggestion: usually the tone of voice will make that clear.

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