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What is difference between

Could you sell your old computer to me, seeing (that) you have no use for it.

Can you sell your old computer to me, seeing (that) you have no use for it.

Can I use either one of them?

Which one is grammatically correct or if both are, what is the difference in meaning?

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As a native speaker, I would use either. They are both correct. In my opinion there is a very subtle difference in meaning, and I would choose one over the other if I required that difference in emphasis to be clear to the recipient.

This version:

Could you sell your old computer to me, seeing (that) you have no use for it.

Implies I understand the owner of the computer has a choice of whether to sell or not and I'm asking if he might choose to favour me as his chosen buyer, rather than keep it or sell it elsewhere.

This version:

Can you sell your old computer to me, seeing (that) you have no use for it.

Implies that there might be constraints on selling the computer, and I'm asking if it is permissible. Perhaps the computer is still needed, or that the other party may not actually be the owner.

However, even many native speakers may not be cognisant of the nuances in meaning.

  • I agree with all of this, but I especially agree with that last sentence. Native speakers might notice or think about a slight difference in meaning if they were revising a letter or something, but in day-to-day speech, it's almost a toss-up as to which might get uttered. – J.R. Sep 20 '15 at 19:33

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