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 The use of Could

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PostSubject: The use of Could   9/2/2011, 9:46 pm


Could


'Could' can be used to talk about the past, the present or the future.

'Could' is a past form of 'can'



  • When I was living in Boston, I could walk to work.
  • He phoned to say he couldn't come.
  • I could see him clearly but I couldn't hear him and then the videoconference line went dead.




'Could' is used to make polite requests. We can also use 'can' for these but 'could' is more polite.



  • Could you help me, please?
  • Could you lend me some money?
  • Could I have a lift?
  • Could I bother you for a moment?




If
we use 'could' in reply to these requests, it suggests that we do not
really want to do it. If you agree to the request, it is better to say
'can'.



  • Of course I can.
  • I could help you if it's really necessary but I'm really busy right now.
  • I could lend you some money but I'd need it back tomorrow without fail.
  • I could give you a lift as far as Birmingham.




'Could' is used to talk about theoretical possibility and is similar in meaning to 'might'.


  • It could rain later. Take an umbrella.
  • He could be there by now.
  • Could he be any happier?
  • It could be Sarah's.


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