In an essay, I wrote this sentence:

Many students and their parents stacked up in front of the gate, loaded with luggage. Consequently, I couldn't enter the campus till 9 a.m.

My teacher modify the sentence to:

... I didn't enter the campus till 9 a.m.

What's the difference?

  • 1
    Your teacher is wrong. "Couldn't" means you were unable to enter, while "didn't" implies you chose not to enter.
    – gotube
    May 24, 2023 at 22:05
  • The main difference is that "could" and "did" have different meanings. Did you look them up? Do you understand their meanings? May 24, 2023 at 23:45
  • I know their basic meaning. If I say I can do sth, I mean I am able to do it. However, I am kind of timid. When coming across the different ideas, especially from my teacher, I usually think maybe I am wrong.
    – 庄怀玉
    May 25, 2023 at 12:55

1 Answer 1


"couldn't enter" suggests that there was some external barrier or obstacle that prevented you from entering the campus. This could be due to various reasons such as a locked gate, a security guard blocking your way, or a crowd of people obstructing your path.

On the other hand, "didn't enter" simply means that you did not enter the campus without any specific reason or explanation given. It doesn't necessarily imply any external obstacle preventing you from entering.

In the context of your essay, if there was indeed an external barrier or obstacle that prevented you from entering the campus, then "couldn't enter" would be more appropriate. However, if there was no specific reason why you didn't enter the campus earlier, then "didn't enter" would be a better choice.

  • 2
    The OP's sentence makes it clear that there was an obstacle - the queue of students with luggage - so couldn't enter seems obviously correct to me. May 24, 2023 at 8:01
  • 1
    It definitely seems as if "couldn't" would be fine. If the entry was busy but you chose to wait until a quieter time although you could have entered with difficulty, then "didn't" would be better. But it seems an odd thing for the teacher to say.
    – Stuart F
    May 24, 2023 at 13:57
  • Did you write this answer yourself, or did you use ChatGPT? This answer feels like a bot's answer, and rates 99.82% fake on this Chatbot detector.
    – gotube
    May 24, 2023 at 21:40
  • 1
    Thank you for your answers!I am glad to know I am right.
    – 庄怀玉
    May 25, 2023 at 12:29
  • we don't have access to chatgpt in our country due to some restricts law. I usually just use "textranch.com" and "Grammarly" to check if there are grammaticall issues in my passages or not. @gotube May 25, 2023 at 12:51

You must log in to answer this question.

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