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7 votes
Accepted

Need or needs with bare infinitive

*He need/needs worry about the weather today. This is ungrammatical. "Need" can be either a modal auxiliary verb or a lexical verb. As an auxiliary, it occurs only in non-affirmative ...
BillJ's user avatar
  • 17.1k
5 votes
Accepted

Is using "could" in an "if" clause, like "If you could..." grammatical?

Could can either have a past meaning (=was able to) or a conditional meaning (=would be able to). For example, in the sentence "When I was younger I could run five miles", "could" ...
rjpond's user avatar
  • 23.1k
4 votes

Modal verbs: difference betweeen ¨Would¨ and ¨Could¨

"Could" and "would" have some special use patterns when requests are involved. Would you like a cup of coffee? ^ This is a correct way to ask if the listener wants you to give ...
BadZen's user avatar
  • 3,729
2 votes

Is it correct to use 'could' to describe present ability?

The dialogue is similar to a bargaining exchange, by using "could", the food critic (Lillian) is telling the sous-chef (Katherine) that there is a possibility that she could get her own ...
Mari-Lou A's user avatar
  • 27.8k
2 votes

Is it correct to use 'could' to describe present ability?

This is a conditional "could". Normal conditionals use "would": I would be able to help you find your own place. You might want to use "can" instead of "be able&...
James K's user avatar
  • 226k
2 votes
Accepted

if I had enough money, I could buy a 20-room mansion

The second and third sentences are not specific: they could mean now or any time. The first is much more likely to be read as meaning right now, because the condition is not the normal one. A sentence ...
Colin Fine's user avatar
  • 75.9k
2 votes
Accepted

"could" is used for past ability or ability now(or future)?

From context you can tell that that "could" is in the past. The two other verbs in the sentence and the sentence before are conjugated in the past tense (enabled, was). This lets you know ...
Aidan McMillan's user avatar
2 votes
Accepted

<could usage> She could be very unkind

First and foremost I interpret it as saying she was unkind on more than one occasion in the past, and thus provably had the capacity to be unkind. In fact, she may have been very unkind, and the ...
Justin Stafford's user avatar
2 votes

Which should we use?'Can' or 'could'?

You can if their being able to stay warm has relevance to the present moment, otherwise you use the past tense.
LonelyDriver's user avatar
2 votes

Can't have + V3 or Couldn't have + V3

1: If Jones was at work until six, he can't have done the murder. it is not possible (now) that he did it (then) 2: If Jones was at work until six, he couldn't have done the murder. it was not ...
FumbleFingers's user avatar
2 votes

What a shame they couldn’t/can't come

In other words, 'couldn't' means past here? Yes What a shame they couldn’t come. = What a shame [that at the time I asked them] they were unable to come. or (said after the event has happened) = What ...
user81561's user avatar
  • 2,642
1 vote
Accepted

My father provided me with money so that I could/was able to go to those swimming lessons - differences in meaning

My father provided me with money so that I could go to those swimming lessons. Meaning: you father provided you with money for the purpose of going to those swimming lessons. The swimming lessons ...
BigMistake's user avatar
  • 1,122
1 vote

Could or could have

I could do this in 30 minutes - I estimate that the task will take me half an hour. I could have done this in 30 minutes - implies that the task has been done. Maybe somebody else has taken 45 minutes ...
Kate Bunting's user avatar
  • 56.5k
1 vote

what is this meaning of "could"?

My intuition is that this is "could" as the subjunctive - it is referring to something that it is possible, but not true. Compare "if I could speak French, that would be good".
IMSoP's user avatar
  • 4,396
1 vote

what is this meaning of "could"?

Here, "could" functions as the past form of "can". That sentence, however, is unnatural, and arguably ungrammatical. It would be much better either to use "can" rather ...
gotube's user avatar
  • 50.9k
1 vote
Accepted

"Can" can be used in the past?

‘can't be’ means it's totally impossible, and ‘couldn't be’ means that it's almost impossible and it's often used in describing things happened in the past. E.g.:If one said: It couldn't have been an ...
Thomas Peng's user avatar
1 vote

Can I use 'can' for making suggestions?

Yes, using "can" is a common way of making a suggestion, or implying one by giving a possible choice. It's very casual/friendly/informal. Both can be used to make a suggestion. One ...
gotube's user avatar
  • 50.9k
1 vote
Accepted

You can stay here if you like

Your sentences are fine with either can or could. Both would be understood as a suggestion because of the context. It's fairly common to use can/could as synonyms in informal English, especially when ...
Billy Kerr's user avatar
  • 3,759
1 vote

Is "I would be happy if I can return the favor” grammatically correct?

Both "can" and "could" convey the same sense to me. I would like to return the favor. That may or may not be possible. The "would be happy" conveys the uncertainty.
Ethan Bolker's user avatar
  • 7,123
1 vote

Will _ would and Can_Could differences

I assume that the restrictions are currently in force, because the present perfect "has imposed". Both can/will and could/would are valid, and each indicates a different perspective of the ...
JavaLatte's user avatar
  • 60k
1 vote

could vs might (for expressing the future possibility)

Your first examples, I could go there. That sentence could mean either that I might go there (that it is a possibility), or that I am able to go there. For example, "I could go there, but I won't....
Jack O'Flaherty's user avatar
1 vote

could vs might (for the future possibility)

I almost completely agree with James K's answer, but I have a slight difference, so I'm posting it as a new answer When you say "I could go there," you generally mean you are able to or that ...
Voldemort's Wrath's user avatar
1 vote
Accepted

Is it correct and natural to use the question "how could you have done it?" when expressing disbelief or surprise?

While it is true that How could you...! expresses disbelief or surprise, it is often used in a critical way and can be accompanied by emotions of anger. For example, imagine that you told your friend ...
kandyman's user avatar
  • 1,645
1 vote

Usage of modal verb Could

How could we spend this time on the island? By what means (hotel, money. a tent etc.) What to do while there, the activities, in the sense of how to spend one's time. There is also a use of could ...
Lambie's user avatar
  • 46.5k
1 vote

"How could you have done it?" vs "How did you manage to do it"

To me, "How did you manage to do it?" is simple and understandable. The question "How could you have done it?" doesn't make sense in context. It would fit better in this setting: "You knew I didn't ...
Jack O'Flaherty's user avatar
1 vote
Accepted

What is the difference between "how could you do" and "how could have you done" when used to express critisism or annoyance?

It's probably worth flagging up the big difference in actual usage first... Many people might say we avoid the more complex Present Perfect version simply because it's unnecessarily complex, and ...
FumbleFingers's user avatar
1 vote

I couldn't / wasn't able to drink coffee (come home late) when I was 10 years old

At 10 years of age, your issue is usually permission rather than ability. Your parents/guardians are in charge of pretty much everything you do. You don't really have any say in things. So, you ...
DoneWithThis.'s user avatar
1 vote

"Could not but" in interrogative sentence

As you can see from this Gngram, both could not but and could but are possible, and although they were in decline in the last century, they seem to be currently picking up: The idiomatic phrase is ...
fev's user avatar
  • 9,555
1 vote

"Could not but" in interrogative sentence

Ronald is correct, this is archaic usage. The difference between: "How could I not but close my eyes?" and: "How could I not close my eyes?" is that the first one is more like "How could I do ...
BadZen's user avatar
  • 3,729

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