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  1. Hanaka

    Smile What the different between can't and couldn't?

    Hello teachers,
    I wonder what the differences of these sentences: 'I can't live without it', and 'I couldn't live without it'? When should I use can't or couldn't?
    I'll be very thankful for your answer or explaination. Thank you very much.
    Best regards,

  2. BobK's Avatar
    Harmless drudge
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2006
    • Posts: 15,916

    Re: What the different between can't and couldn't?

    They can be similar in meaning, but the 'can't' version refers to a real situation; for example, your laptop has been being repaired for the three weeks, and you 'can't live without it'. The 'couldn't' version refers to a hypothetical situation: 'My Blackberry has all my friends' phone numbers, my 'todo' list, my email archive, photographs... - I don't know what I'd do if I lost it. I couldn't live without it.'

    Of course, 'couldn't' could also (as there, without the negative prefix ) be used to refer to a past instance of inability, as in: 'However hard I tried, I couldn't undo the knot.' But I don't think your question was about that sort of 'couldn't'.


    • Join Date: May 2010
    • Posts: 1

    Re: What the different between can't and couldn't?

    Get it...thanks so much!


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