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    #1

    Question "should" or "could" ?

    The actor was involved in a serious car accident last night because of drunk driving.
    He _____ not have drunk before driving.
    (1) should (2) could

    I think option (1) is the perfect choice in this context while my student argued that she wanted to use option (2)could as a possible choice. However, I think "could" is not suitable in this context. In this context, the speaker seems to be blaming the reason of the car accident on the actor's drunk driving, so it's a matter of "should" or "should not". It's not whether the actor's being able to drink or not.

    If the context is like this:
    "You cannot drink before driving. Drunk driving is illegal. You cannot do it."
    Then I think the use of "can" is one of the suitable choices.

    Do you agree with me? Thank you for your reply.

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    #2

    Re: "should" or "could" ?

    Is this a dialog or not?

    If it is a response to the first statement, someone could express incredulity by saying "he could not have been drinking."

    If it's a continuation of the first statement, then "should" is correct. The actor is to blame and the speaker is chastising him.

    "Should" is the best answer, but you could make a case for "could" in the scenario I described.

    In either event, it should say "have been drinking."

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    #3

    Re: "should" or "could" ?

    Quote Originally Posted by simile View Post
    The actor was involved in a serious car accident last night because of drunk driving.
    He _____ not have drunk before driving.
    (1) should (2) could

    I think option (1) is the perfect choice in this context while my student argued that she wanted to use option (2)could as a possible choice. However, I think "could" is not suitable in this context. In this context, the speaker seems to be blaming the reason of the car accident on the actor's drunk driving, so it's a matter of "should" or "should not". It's not whether the actor's being able to drink or not.

    If the context is like this:
    "You cannot drink before driving. Drunk driving is illegal. You cannot do it."
    Then I think the use of "can" is one of the suitable choices.
    ,
    Do you agree with me? Thank you for your reply.
    If the accident was caused by his drinking, there is no way to argue that he could not have been have been drinking (That is, unless you are a very creative lawyer).

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    #4

    Re: "should" or "could" ?

    Maybe the other driver was drinking.

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    #5

    Re: "should" or "could" ?

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    Is this a dialog or not?

    If it is a response to the first statement, someone could express incredulity by saying "he could not have been drinking."

    If it's a continuation of the first statement, then "should" is correct. The actor is to blame and the speaker is chastising him.

    "Should" is the best answer, but you could make a case for "could" in the scenario I described.

    In either event, it should say "have been drinking."
    Hi, it's not a dialogue. It's a continuation of the first statement. Thank you for your opinion.

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    #6

    Re: "should" or "could" ?

    Hi, SoothingDave and Gillnetter, thanks for the reply with the use of should and could.
    One moe question from your reply. You both suggest the use of "have been drinking". In the beginning, I couldn't figure out the semantics behind it. Then, I thought for a while. I think that the reason for "have been drinking" being better than "have drunk" is that "have been drinking" suggests that the action of drinking is right before that of driving. If we use "have drunk," the sentence may mean drinking is an action before driving, but it may happen some time earlier, not right before driving. Maybe 5 hours ago. If it's 5 hours ago, maybe it won't cause any accident. Am I right?

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    #7

    Re: "should" or "could" ?

    It's simpler than that. When discussing drinking alcohol, we use "drinking." We can say "I was drunk" to indicate my state, but we wouldn't say "I have drunk" to indicate that I was drinking alcohol.

    When you come home, your wife says "Have you been drinking?" not "have you drunk?"

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