“I feared I might be too late.”
“You nearly were, I couldn’t have kept him off the Stone much longer –”
“Not the Stone, boy, you — the effort involved nearly killed you. For one terrible moment there, I was afraid it had. As for the Stone, it has been destroyed.”
“Destroyed?” said Harry blankly. “But your friend — Nicolas Flamel —”
“Oh, you know about Nicolas?” said Dumbledore, sounding quite delighted. “You did do the thing properly, didn’t you? Well, Nicolas and I have had a little chat, and agreed it’s all for the best.”
“But that means he and his wife will die, won’t they?”
“They have enough Elixir stored to set their affairs in order and then, yes, they will die.”
Dumbledore smiled at the look of amazement on Harry’s face.
“To one as young as you, I’m sure it seems incredible, but to Nicolas and Perenelle, it really is like going to bed after a very, very long day. After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure. You know, the Stone was really not such a wonderful thing. As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all — the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.”
(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

When there is ‘could’ after the conjunction ‘as’, what meaning does it add? I mean, what is the difference from ‘as much money and life as you want’?

1 Answer 1


"As much money as you want" means "as much money as you want now" - since it's the present tense. "As much money as you could want" is conditional (I think) and it means "as much money as you might ever want"

  • 1
    I would say "as much money as you could want" means "as much money as you are capable of wanting". Commented Aug 19, 2013 at 10:51
  • Could is usually the past tense of can, and since this sentence is past tense (as indicated by the was in the previous phrase) I take it to mean the past tense of "As much money and life as you can want!" This is in agreement with @DavidSchwartz, just a slight paraphrase.
    – mwotton
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 23:38

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