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  1. beachboy's Avatar
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    #1

    can x could

    Which one is right?
    They wish the weather would clear up so that they ( ) can ( ) could go on a picnic.

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    #2

    Re: can x could

    Which would you choose, BB?
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    Not a professional ESL teacher.
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  2. beachboy's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: can x could

    IŽd choose can because wish-would refers to future or present, and so that they could refers to past(I think). But my book wonŽt agree with me...
    Last edited by beachboy; 21-Jul-2009 at 23:12.

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    #4

    Re: can x could

    I'm inclined to agree with you, rather than your book:

    1. They wish the weather would clear up so that they can go on a picnic.

    2. They wished the weather would clear up so that they could go on a picnic.

    Although "could" is often possible, in such cases (e.g. "I wish the weather would clear up, so we could/can go on a picnic!"), it doesn't sound quite right to me, in #1. But other members may disagree!

    All the best,

    MrP
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  3. Philly's Avatar

    • Join Date: Jun 2006
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    #5

    Re: can x could

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPedantic View Post
    I'm inclined to agree with you, rather than your book:
    And I'm inclined to agree with both Beachboy and MrP.

    I'm not sure whether there are any prescriptive rules about what form of the verb "must" appear in that sort of subordinate clause in a wish-sentence. The "so that" clause basically states a reason for their wish. It seems to me that either "can" or "could" is possible, and that the decision about which one to use would depend on how likely the speaker thinks it is that the weather will clear up. For example:

    Scenario 1, the facts: It has rained every day for the last six weeks, and it is raining cats and dogs again today.

    "I wish the weather would clear up so that we could do something outdoors for a change."


    Scenario 2, the facts: The weather forecast for today was that there would be a brief shower early in the morning, and then sunshine for the rest of the day. It is now 1:30 p.m. The rain seems to be slowly tapering off, but I had expected it to be sunny by now. I'm annoyed about the slower than expected improvement in the weather because I want to go on a picnic.

    "I wish the sun would hurry up and come out so that we can finally go on our picnic."

    That's my two cents.
    Last edited by Philly; 22-Jul-2009 at 02:04.

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