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I have some basic knowledge of English grammar (this is what I think!!!). I have a question about the modal verbs can and could. Let me share what I know about these modal verbs. I have explained both the modal verbs below to make you understand what knowledge I have about them:

Can:

It can be used to show abilities, opportunities, possibilities and take permissions and requests (only in the present time).

Could:

It can be used in the past and present times. It can be used to show abilities, opportunities, possibilities (in the past as it is the past form of can), but it can also be used to take permissions and requests (in the present).

My question is can we use could in the present and future to show possibilities?

  • @StoneyB Thanks, sorry it was a typo mistake. I have fixed it. Thanks again:) – user62015 Dec 9 '14 at 16:03
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Yes, we can use "could" to talk about possibility in the present or future. For example, don't eat this bread; it could be stale. He was sent to prison two months ago, and could be released next week.

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Why not? Could is not restricted to those tenses. For instance,

Could I speak to 'x'?
If we don’t hurry we could be late

We generally use this phrase to speak to someone else. Could over Can simply reflects that you are more polite. Check that you have not spoken to someone else, so it's a kind of future. The word could is used in present but in conditional context.

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