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Thread: can vs could

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    #1

    Smile can vs could

    Hello.

    Is there any difference?

    (A) Visiting relatives can be boring.
    (B) Visiting relatives could be boring.

  1. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: can vs could

    Quote Originally Posted by Jstudent View Post
    Hello.

    Is there any difference?

    (A) Visiting relatives can be boring.
    (B) Visiting relatives could be boring.
    (B) is not natural IMO.

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    #3

    Smile Re: can vs could

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    (B) is not natural IMO.
    So, B doesn't make sense?

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: can vs could

    Quote Originally Posted by Jstudent View Post
    So, B doesn't make sense?
    It's possible in certain contexts. As a simple statement of opinion, with no further context, only A is likely.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: can vs could

    Out of curiosity, by "visiting relatives", do you mean relatives who are visiting you, or the act of you going to visit relatives?

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    #6

    Smile Re: can vs could

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Out of curiosity, by "visiting relatives", do you mean relatives who are visiting you, or the act of you going to visit relatives?

    I mean the act of going to visit them.

  4. 5jj's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: can vs could

    Quote Originally Posted by Jstudent View Post
    I mean the act of going to visit them.
    It can, of course mean that, but I interpreted it the other way, as it happens. If you wish to avoid ambiguity, you'll need to rephrase in some way such as - 'It can be boring to visit relatives'

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    #8

    Re: can vs could

    Quote Originally Posted by Jstudent View Post
    Hello.

    Is there any difference?

    (A) Visiting relatives can be boring.
    (B) Visiting relatives could be boring.
    Yes.

    Setting aside the alternative semantic interpretation ("relatives who visit can be boring"),

    the first would mean

    It is sometimes boring to visit relatives.

    while the second either

    It might be boring to visit relatives.

    (i.e. if we ever actually did so).

    or

    It was sometimes boring to visit relatives.

    (i.e. when we did it in the past).

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