Let's take a hypothetical sentence pronounced by a hypothetical person who speaks, say, of events that are more than 100 years in the past:
"The civil war period was very violent. In those days, you could have been killed for any trifle."
Would this sentence be grammatical and logical if both the speaker and the listener were born after the civil war in question, meaning there was not a chance for any of them to witness those days?
I've looked up Google, and "those days you could have been" turned out to be a rare combination for some reason.
But "In those days you could be killed" is possibly wrong when talking of the past.
I'm trying to proofread an English-language post written by a Russian-speaking person and untangle the grammar behind some of the structures. His sentence runs like this:
There was very dangerous at that times because you would be looted, taken a beating and even gone home in a box...
I'd come up with this "could have been" instead of his "you would be looted, beaten.." but then had second thoughts. Maybe "could be" is proper. Or should one use "you were likely to be looted"?
Here's one sentence I've found at Google Books:
As I stated before, in those days, you could be an Instructor as a Private Pilot, but there was not much of a practical use for having one because you couldn't charge for your services.
It seems that could be works fine as the past form of can. But will it work in:
As I stated before, in those days, you could be killed easily.