8
  • I would love to if I can
  • I would love to if I could

Which one is right?

  • 1
    It should be I would love to if I could imo. – hjpotter92 Mar 19 '13 at 2:54
13

I would love to if I could has CAN in the past tense but with present reference as a counterfactual:

SHE: Hey, Marco, we're going to the Thai place for lunch, you wanna come with?
YOU: I'd love to if I could, but I'm waiting for a call.

I would love to if I can has CAN in the present tense but with future reference as a contingent possibility:

SHE: Hey, Marco, we're going to Spiro's after work, you wanna come with?
YOU: I'd love to if I can, but right now I don't know how late I'm gonna hafta work.

2

I would love to if I could

indicates a possibility in case another possibility occurs. This should be the better choice. The context as used in a full sentence may be helpful.

I would love to if I can

indicates a possibility in case some ability exists.

Can indicates ability while could indicates possibility.

So you can say

I would love to if I could find a babysitter for the kids.

But if you say

I would love to if I can get an A on the test.

technically might be OK, but it sounds strange.

  • 1
    I dunno. If somebody asks me to a party and I decide I can only go if I get my homework done first, when they say, "Hey, do you want to go to the party?" I would respond, "I would love to if I can get my work done in time." Nothing strange about that. In fact, using could there, implies that you don't think it would be possible. – Jim Mar 19 '13 at 6:31
  • @Jim, if you are using could, does it change the meaning of your sentence? 'I would love to if I could get my work done in time.' – EnglishLearner Mar 19 '13 at 14:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.