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  1. Unregistered
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    #1

    could or can?

    could or can?Past tense because it's last night. Is I can't handle a set phrase?


    Last night, my friend got into a fight. I didn't want get involved. It was a situation I can't/couldn't handle.


    • Join Date: Sep 2009
    • Posts: 422
    #2

    Re: could or can?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    could or can?Past tense because it's last night. Is I can't handle a set phrase?

    Modal verbs have no tense. In modern English they are tenseless verbs which carry modal/emotive meaning into sentences. The notion of tense/time is carried by other means.

    Last night, my friend got into a fight. I didn't want to get involved. It was a situation I can't/couldn't handle.
    This provides a good example that modals are tenseless. can't and couldn't say different things and if we could only use couldn't to match some rule, then we would be unable to express a certain thought in English, which is really a ludicrous notion.

    I can't handle holds that these are situations that routinely cause me problems, while I couldn't handle points to that one situation.

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