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    #1

    Arrow could do/have done

    What's the difference between the sentences within each pair?
    1. A How could you do this?
    B How could you have done this?
    2. A How could they know it?
    B How could they have known it?
    Is the difference only of this kind that sentences A refer to the present or future and sentences B to the past?
    Can the sentence "How could you do this?" be a sort of reproach, criticism for a past action, while " How could you have done this?" is simply asking about possibility?

    I'd be grateful for a thorough explanation.


    • Join Date: May 2008
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    #2

    Re: could do/have done

    I think the meaning depends on the intonation of the question.

    How could you do this? (calm) Enquiring into a possible method or process which you are unsure about.

    How could you do this? (angry) Expressing disbelief and disappointment towards someone's actions.

    How could you have done this? (calm) Enquiring hypothetically about a possible method or process which could have been used.

    How could you have done this? (angry) Expressing disbelief and disappointment towards an action commited by someone in the past.

    These are my interpretations, but I'm not a qualified teacher.
    Last edited by colloquium; 27-Jun-2008 at 12:20.

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