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As far as I know, the structure "I thought we could/would do....." can be used for 2 purposes:

1-When you found that something was unexpectedly different from what you thought it was. For example: I thought the dishwasher was broken, did you get it fixed? (unexpected situation)

2-When you make suggestions: For instance: I thought we could go to the lake this weekend. (making a suggestion)

Now, If others didn't come to the lake and it was just you who came, the plan did not take place. So, when you see them next week, you want to show your curiosity about it.

Can you use the same structure (I thought we could go the lake this weekend) to refer to your curiosity about why the suggested plan didn't take place.? (Just like you used the same structure to refer to your curiosity about the diswasher not being broken.)

Or should I say "I thought we could HAVE GONE to the lake the last weekend!"? to show that the plan did not take place?

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  • Your dishwasher example doesn't include "could/would", so isn't an example of the structure you're asking about, unless "could/would" isn't a necessary component, and you're talking about the much broader structure [ "I thought" + clause ]. Further, [ "could have" + past participle ] is not the same structure as [ "could/would" + base form ].
    – gotube
    Commented Oct 30, 2022 at 19:32
  • I'm also confused about the intent of your question. Are you asking whether the last example sentence is correct grammar, or whether [ "I thought" + "could have" ] can be used with the function of "showing curiosity"?
    – gotube
    Commented Oct 30, 2022 at 19:35
  • @gotube, Thanks for the answer. Yes, I am asking whether [ "I thought" + "could have" ] can be used with the function of "showing curiosity"?
    – Yunus
    Commented Oct 30, 2022 at 20:00
  • If it was just you who went, by the time you saw your friends you would have to refer to last weekend or this past weekend. Otherwise, no problem. Commented Oct 30, 2022 at 20:53

2 Answers 2

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I suppose, but I see no real problem here.

Situation 1:

My mother is coming to see us on Saturday.

But I thought we could go to the lake this weekend. We have been planning it for months.

Situation 2:

Do you have any ideas for holiday activities?

Well, I thought we could go to the lake this weekend. We might see if we can hire a kayak.

In both situation, the second speaker is speaking about a potential future event.

Without any other context, the "making a suggestion" is the natural interpretation, as situation 1 would require another person to do something that causes an unexpected interruption to the plans. Also, although "I thought we could" is a possible phrasing, it might be more natural to say "I thought we were going to the lake" or something similar. There is no need in this specific context to use "could" to talk about ability.

So to answer the specific question, yes, you can. But there are probably better ways to express this idea.

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  • Thanks for the answer. You say "But there are probably better ways to express this idea." That is excatly what I was looking for. What might be a better way to express this idea? Should I say "I had assumed/presumed we would have gone to the lake this past weekend. Why did you not come?"
    – Yunus
    Commented Oct 31, 2022 at 5:20
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    "I thought we were going to the lake."
    – James K
    Commented Oct 31, 2022 at 6:01
  • If you did go to the lake, it seems to me more natural to say "I thought you were going to come to the lake/join me at the lake". Commented Oct 31, 2022 at 7:59
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I don't think "curiosity" is exactly the right word, but I get what you're asking and yes, "I thought we could have gone to the lake last weekend" can be used in that context to mean something along the lines of, "This was a missed opportunity that I was thinking about", or to solicit agreement on that point.

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