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    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 8
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    #1

    I could do with a coffee when I was there

    Can we use "could do with" about the past (or we have to say: I was able to do with ; or we must use it only in the present?) ?

    e.g. Can we say:
    I could do with a cup of coffee when the interview finished. (THEN)

    How can we consider a sentence like this:
    I could do with a cup of coffee after such an exhausting day
    It happened today or last week?
    and what about
    I could do with a cup of coffee after finishing all the work. ?

    Thx


    • Join Date: Mar 2006
    • Posts: 671
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    #2

    Re: I could do with a coffee when I was there

    Quote Originally Posted by matar0 View Post
    Can we use "could do with" about the past (or we have to say: I was able to do with ; or we must use it only in the present?) ?
    e.g. Can we say:
    I could do with a cup of coffee when the interview finished. (THEN)
    How can we consider a sentence like this:
    I could do with a cup of coffee after such an exhausting day
    It happened today or last week?
    and what about
    I could do with a cup of coffee after finishing all the work. ?
    Thx
    1) "I could do with a cup of coffee when the interview finished."

    This is incorrect. The time clause "...when the interview finished." is in the past imperfect (simple past) tense. The modal verb phrase must agree with this tense.

    There are two possible tense forms for a modal verb: present/future and past. "I could do..." is a present or future modal. The equivalent past modal is "I could have done..."

    So, it would be correct to say "I could have done with a cup of coffee when the interview finished." In this case, the coffee-drinking would occur in the past.

    Alternatively, it would also be correct to use the present/future modal with a time clause in the present simple or present perfect tenses:

    "I could do with a cup of coffee when the interview finishes."
    OR
    "I could do with a cup of coffee when the interview has finished."

    In this case, the coffee-drinking would occur in the future.

    2) "I could do with a cup of coffee after such an exhausting day."

    This is correct ONLY if we are saying it NOW (in the present). If the 'exhausting day' happened last week, we would have had the coffee in the past (directly after that day). So the correct statement would be "I could have done with a cup of coffee after such an exhausting day."

    3) "I could do with a cup of coffee after finishing all the work."

    This is the same as 2), but note that it is also possible to say "I could do with a cup of coffee after having finished all the work."

    I hope this is not too unclear.


    • Join Date: Nov 2004
    • Posts: 39
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    #3

    Re: I could do with a coffee when I was there

    I never wondered about that, yet I learned something new through reading this. Thanks!

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