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  1. julianna's Avatar
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    #1

    can and could

    as we learned in school, can reffers to ability in the present, and could in the past, but i think that we can use 'could' for ability in the present, can't we?


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    #2

    Re: can and could

    Quote Originally Posted by julianna View Post
    as we learned in school, can reffers to ability in the present, and could in the past, but i think that we can use 'could' for ability in the present, can't we?
    Cambridge Dictionaries Online - Cambridge University Press

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    #3

    Re: can and could

    Quote Originally Posted by julianna View Post
    as we learned in school, can reffers to ability in the present, and could in the past, but i think that we can use 'could' for ability in the present, can't we?
    If I tried hard, maybe I could find an example where 'could' is used with "present idea". But I won't do it.

    Oops! That's it! In the sentence above I used "could" for a present action.
    (or hypothetical)
    Well, but I did not perform that action - or did I?

    Coming back to the simple grammar could is indeed always used in the past, but let us wait for the words from the experts.

    P.S.: Not a native English speaker
    Last edited by Abstract Idea; 16-Aug-2009 at 02:03. Reason: corrected "maybe be I could" to "maybe I could"


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    #4

    Re: can and could

    Quote Originally Posted by julianna View Post
    as we learned in school, can reffers to ability in the present, and could in the past, but i think that we can use 'could' for ability in the present, can't we?
    We use "could" for present or future possibility in either real or imaginary (hypothetical) expressions.

    If we had a billion dollars, we could travel around the world. - imaginary in the present

    If we save enough money, we could travel to a few different countries. - a statement about a real future possibility

    If we wanted to go away for a few weeks without any set plans, we could even do that. - imaginary at present or in the future - "If we wanted to go away for a few weeks" - not an optimistic statement about the proposition of going away without making plans

    We also use "could" to express inability or ability in the past. It's more often used to express "inability".

    They couldn't play golf because it was raining all weekend.

    could have - possibility in the past - We could have gone to the beach, but we went to the park instead. - They didn't go to the beach, but it was possible to go to the beach - We know they didn't go to the beach.

    could have - Where's Tom? I don't know. Do you think he could have gotten stuck in traffic? He should've been hear an hour ago.

    "could have gotten stuck in traffic" - maybe he got stuck in traffic, maybe he did not - We don't know what happened.

    Tom could be here any minute now; he just called. - really possible in the future (even with the adverb "now" - the possibility begins "now")

    I couldn't tell you. - emphasizing the impossibility over the inability - There could be a reason to use "could" instead of "can". It depends on the speaker's viewpoint and the context.

    Tom could go skiing every weekend last winter, but now he's too busy with his business to do that. - ability and possibility in the past - he was able to go skiing - it was possible for him to go skiing (so he did)

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    #5

    Re: can and could


    Good one !
    It has a present idea. Perhaps a present hypothetical idea.

    But of course it is not the same as "I can eat a horse" which is the only "real present" - or as maybe the grammarians would say the indicative simple present.

  2. julianna's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: can and could

    i liked this sentence... If I tried hard, maybe be I could find an example where 'could' is used with "present idea". But I won't do it. thank you!!!

  3. engee30's Avatar
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    #7

    Thumbs up Re: can and could

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    Good one !
    It has a present idea. Perhaps a present hypothetical idea.

    But of course it is not the same as "I can eat a horse" which is the only "real present" - or as maybe the grammarians would say the indicative simple present.
    That's correct.
    As far as ability in the present is concerned, can is the one to use.

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    #8

    Re: can and could

    Quote Originally Posted by julianna View Post
    i liked this sentence... If I tried hard, maybe be I could find an example where 'could' is used with "present idea". But I won't do it. thank you!!!
    Oops. It seems I tried too hard here so I wrote too much "be's". Julianna, please do not follow my mistake - take a look at the correction.

  4. julianna's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: can and could

    oh my God; i didn't even realize that mistake, i just said that i liked your sentence becuz it choked me the first time i read it, i 've thought that you really will not help me in my question!!
    so, i am sory becus you misunderstood me..

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