0

What are the meanings of following sentences:

1.You could get a better job if you spoke English.
2.You would get a better job if you spoke English.
3.You could have got a better job if you had spoken English.
4.You would have got a better job if you had spoken English.

I'm confused here because they're similar to me . Could you please make clear meanings of these sentences?

  • 1 &2 are said hypothetically, with 1 being less certain. 3&4 meant the claim would be true if the condition was true, with 3 being less certain. – Ghaith Alrestom May 7 '16 at 7:38
  • And 3 and 4 should be using "gotten", not "got". – zondo May 7 '16 at 10:47
  • You are asking two questions that have many points, *would vs. could" and simple vs. perfect tenses. Each should be asked separately. Also "can't distinguish" isn't really helpful, because we can't know what that means. – user3169 May 7 '16 at 18:39
1

All four sentences are conditionals. Let's start with the first two.

  1. If you spoke English, you could get a better job.
  2. If you spoke English, you would get a better job.

The only difference is "would" vs "could". Would means it's likely or certain you'll get a better job. Could means it's possible.


The last two sentences use a stronger form of the past tense. Technically, they use past perfect instead of past simple.

  1. If you had spoken English, you could have got a better job.
  2. If you had spoken English, you would have got a better job.

These two sentences imply that the possibility of getting a better job is already in the past. Kind of like saying the person missed out.


Technically speaking, the first two sentences are called second degree conditional, and the last two are called third degree conditional.

  • Are first two sentences is used in present tense situations? – yubraj May 7 '16 at 23:49
  • You can use the present tense by saying "If you speak English, you can get a better job". The sentences are all suited to different contexts. – ktm5124 May 7 '16 at 23:57
  • Let's say a Korean man and his wife move to America. The husband might tell his wife, "If you spoke English you could get a better job". This could be a way of encouraging his wife to learn English. It also implies that his wife doesn't know English. – ktm5124 May 7 '16 at 23:59
  • A different example. A husband tells his wife, "If you speak English they will understand you". This is also conditional. It implies the wife knows how to speak English. It uses the present tense. – ktm5124 May 8 '16 at 0:03

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.