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Thread: Could / Can

  1. #11
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    1 has more possibilities than 2.

    3 could be better than 4 because the tense should be in concordance.

    5, you are able to do somthing.
    6, same as 5, with a tad of uncertainty of your capability of doing it.

  2. #12
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    6. I could tell when my truck is going to lose traction.
    How come this is not past tense?

  3. #13
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    5. I can tell when my truck is going to lose traction.
    6. I could tell when my truck is going to lose traction.

    Both "can" and "could" refer to general ability.

    I can tell when my truck is going to lose traction. (OK)
    --> present can + future tense is going to
    --> I am able to, I am pretty sure I can tell.

    I could tell when my truck is going to lose traction. (OK)
    --> past could + future tense is going to
    --> I am able to, but I am not very sure I can tell.

  4. #14
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    3. I guessed I could go to school next year.
    4. I guessed I can go to school next year.

    The past tense of "guessed" dominates the time frame of all sentence; the action of guess happend at a point in the past. So the axiliary in the second clause should be the past tense, "could."


    4 is okay though just that the tenses are not balanced.

  5. #15
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    Thanks.

  6. #16
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    You're welcome, jack.

  7. #17
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    Default Re: Could / Can

    Are these correct? What do these mean?

    1. Could I burrow that from you? (Is this correct? 'Could' more polite right?)
    2. Could I burrow that from you? (Or is this incorrect? Because it is a conditional statement? 'Could I burrow that from you if you don't need it?')
    3. Can I burrow that from you?

    Are these correct? What do these mean?
    4. Could I burrow that from you if you don't need it? (Is this incorrect? Should it be 'past/past' ?)
    5. Could I burrow that from you if you didn't need it? (Correct? Past/Past?)

  8. #18
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    Default Re: Could / Can

    borrow, not burrow.

    With requests, speakers tend to use 'can', but they should be using 'could'. The assumption is that 'can' is informal and 'could' is formal, but that's not true. 'can' means ability, whereas could means, possibility.

    Pat: Could I borrow that from you, if you don't need it?
    Sam: Sure.

    Pat: Can I borrow that from you, if you don't need it?
    Sam: Uhm, I don't know. Can you? Do you have the physical ability, the strength?

  9. #19
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    Default Re: Could / Can

    Thanks.

  10. #20
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    Default Re: Could / Can


    With requests, speakers tend to use 'can', but they should be using 'could'. The assumption is that 'can' is informal and 'could' is formal, but that's not true. 'can' means ability, whereas could means, possibility.

    Pat: Could I borrow that from you, if you don't need it?
    Sam: Sure.
    So this is not incorrect right?
    1. Could I borrow that from you? ('Could' is more polite than 'can' but is this a conditional question?)

    Or should it be
    2. Could I burrow that from you if you don't need it. (Does it have to be conditional?)

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