Anupam Pathak

People ask where would AAP get money from to fulfill their promises. Remember that episode on Garbage on Satyamev Jayate where a scientist explained how a work that could have been easily done in 3 crores was done in 70 crores using a different mechanism and that too a much substandard work.

Can the highlighted words be replaced by could be, such that it does not change the tense.

Are "could have been" and "could be" interchangeable?

  • 1
    There is no difference in meaning in this particular case, but the tense does change from present conditional to past perfect conditional. See this link to learn about the perfect. Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 20:04
  • Important: in every language, not just in English, a space comes after a comma, period, or any other punctuation, not before it. Thanks @Catija ! Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 20:18

1 Answer 1


There is a difference. In this case Could have been refers to an ability at that time in the past. Could be refers to an ability today.

To use both tenses in a sentence:

...explained how a work that could have been easily done in 3 crores, and by today's standards could be done in 2 crores, was done in 70 crores...

  • 2
    Your sentence is better composed than the example given, but in that example, there is no difference in meaning. The OP really needs to understand what the perfect is and when to use it, I think. Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 20:21
  • @P.E.Dant I think, "could be" can also be used in the past. "In the past, it could be issued that ....." Am I right?
    – Cardinal
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 20:48
  • @Cardinal It can be (and could be!) and frequently is. StoneyB's primer will help the OP - not with the conditional part necessarily, but with the perfect part. Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 20:51
  • @P.E.Dant Thanks. I mentioned that since after reading this answer, I referred that the answer went too far to strictly say that "Could be refers to an ability today.". Perhaps, they meant in that context.
    – Cardinal
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 20:58
  • Confused."Could ,could be and could have been" all three can be used to show past ability ?
    – user188386
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 20:59

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