What is the actual usage of "If I would" and "if I could"?

For example:

"If I could reach the end of the sky,..."


"If I would reach the end of the sky,..."

which one sounds better?

  • "If I would reach the end of the sky,..." doesn't mean what you think it means. To express that thought in English we would say, "If I were to reach the end of the sky..." or, "If I reached the end of the sky..." Sep 24 '15 at 9:45
  • Would in the if part is an unusual pattern not for general use. It indicates a request or volition, like "If you would please wash your hands, then we can eat.”
    – tchrist
    Sep 24 '15 at 11:36

They have quite different meanings.

Could is a close relation of can. But would is a relative of will. So could involves an expression of ability, whilst would one of willingness.

If I could run as fast as Usain Bolt I would compete in the Olympic games, but unfortunately I can't.

If he would only look carefully he would find the missing item, but unfortunately he will not.

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