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    #1

    couldn't do vs. couldn't have done

    Tom invited me to his party last night, but I couldn't go anyway because I was ill.
    Tom invited me to his party last night, but i couldn't have gone anyway because I was ill.

    Does both of them have the same meaning? If not, then what is the difference between them?

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    #2

    Re: couldn't do vs. couldn't have done

    Quote Originally Posted by shb27 View Post
    Tom invited me to his party last night, but I couldn't go anyway because I was ill.
    Tom invited me to his party last night, but i couldn't have gone anyway because I was ill.

    Does both of them have the same meaning? If not, then what is the difference between them?
    They mean more or less the same. Tom invited you and you couldn't go because you were ill.
    Sentence 1, with 'anyway' is not natural. Nor is it natural in 2 without more context.
    What are you trying to say with "anyway"? 'Anyway' would generally be used in a sentence like, "Tom didn't invite me to his party; but I couldn't have gone anyway because I was ill." ('Anyway' signifies 'even if he had asked me'). In your sentences, it seems to signify nothing.
    Last edited by Raymott; 03-Mar-2014 at 00:07.

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    #3

    Re: couldn't do vs. couldn't have done

    Hi, Raymott.

    I wonder, if I have to draw a line between the two sentences, whether the difference could be explained as following:
    #1 is merely a statement of one event happened in the past.
    #2 is used when the speaker tries to argue against a claim previously made that he did go to the party.
    A: Dude, don't tell me you didn't go to Tom's notoriously mad party last night?
    B: Tom invited me to his party last night, but i couldn't have gone anyway because I was ill.

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    #4

    Re: couldn't do vs. couldn't have done

    Quote Originally Posted by cubezero3 View Post
    I wonder, if I have to draw a line between the two sentences, whether the difference could be explained as following:
    #1 is merely a statement of one event happened in the past.
    #2 is used when the speaker tries to argue against a claim previously made that he did go to the party.
    Raymott has already explained that neither sentence works with 'anyway'.
    A: Dude, don't tell me you didn't go to Tom's notoriously mad party last night?
    B: Tom invited me to his party last night, but i couldn't have gone anyway because I was ill.
    Did you read Raymott's post?

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    #5

    Re: couldn't do vs. couldn't have done

    I am not a teacher.

    I too feel that the "anyway" is unnatural.

    The only way I would say, "Tom invited me to his party last night, but I couldn't have gone (anyway) because I was ill." would be if I'm not sure whether or not I went and I'm using the fact that I was ill to convince myself that I didn't actually go.

    If I just want to say that I was invited but didn't go, I'd use the first sentence, without the "anyway".

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    #6

    Re: couldn't do vs. couldn't have done

    Quote Originally Posted by cubezero3 View Post
    Hi, Raymott.

    I wonder, if I have to draw a line between the two sentences, whether the difference could be explained as following:
    #1 is merely a statement of one event happened in the past.
    #2 is used when the speaker tries to argue against a claim previously made that he did go to the party.
    A: Dude, don't tell me you didn't go to Tom's notoriously mad party last night?
    B: Tom invited me to his party last night, but i couldn't have gone anyway because I was ill.
    "Anyway" has to refer to something. In this case the most likely reason is "I didn't want to go anyway."
    "Tom invited me to his party, but I didn't want to go. Anyway, I couldn't have gone because I was ill."
    Unless a person is going to be intransigent and say, "Yes, Tom asked me, and I wanted to go, and I was feeling well, and looking forward to a night out, but I still couldn't go anyway," I think it's fair to say that 'anyway' signifies something - despite the fact that he won't tell you what it is.

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    #7

    Re: couldn't do vs. couldn't have done

    I was wondering whetehr I should replace anyway with there, or whether I should write to clarify that I quoted the thread starter's sentences withouth changing them for reasons I can't remember now, then shamefully I forgot to do this. I have the habit of reading posts here before I go to sleep. It was over midnight and I guess that's what caused the misunderstanding here.
    Last edited by cubezero3; 05-Mar-2014 at 06:39.

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    #8

    Re: couldn't do vs. couldn't have done

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    "Anyway" has to refer to something. In this case the most likely reason is "I didn't want to go anyway."
    "Tom invited me to his party, but I didn't want to go. Anyway, I couldn't have gone because I was ill."
    Unless a person is going to be intransigent and say, "Yes, Tom asked me, and I wanted to go, and I was feeling well, and looking forward to a night out, but I still couldn't go anyway," I think it's fair to say that 'anyway' signifies something - despite the fact that he won't tell you what it is.
    Hi, Raymott.

    It was over midnight and I, after comtemplating on the question I raised, forgot to clarify that I read and agreed with what you said about anyway. I should've have replaced any with there. This is a mistake which happened due to my neglect.

    When I wrote my question, my emphasis lay on the difference between couldn't go and couldn't have gone. I thought, when it comes to the sense that the writer wants to state the fact he didn' go to the party, these two sentences express meanings that are "more or less the same".

    Then I went down further and tried to think of situations where only one of the two structures is suitable. It occured to me the could have done structure is sometimes used to talk about the possibility of a past event. So I hazarded a guess that when talking about the possibility of a event, or speaking against the a previously laid, only the could have done structure is suitable? Perhaps this only works when it's a conversation about a third person?

    For example:

    A: Dude, everyone's saying you chick went to Tom's notoriously mad party last night. You'd better watch it.
    B: She couldn't have gone there because she was ill and her mother was with her in a hospital.

    And both sturctures are acceptable when the speaker only wants to give a fact.

    A: Dude, did your girlfriend go to Tom'snotoriously mad party last night?
    B: Tom invited her and she couldn't go there/couldn't have gone there because she was ill.
    Last edited by cubezero3; 05-Mar-2014 at 06:38.

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    #9

    Re: couldn't do vs. couldn't have done

    Quote Originally Posted by cubezero3 View Post

    A: Dude, everyone's saying you chick went to Tom's notoriously mad party last night. You'd better watch it.
    B: She couldn't have gone there because she was ill and her mother was with her in a hospital.

    And both sturctures are acceptable when the speaker only wants to give a fact.

    A: Dude, did your girlfriend go to Tom's notoriously mad party last night?
    B: Tom invited her and she couldn't go there/couldn't have gone there because she was ill.
    They are both acceptable and sound better without 'there'.

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    #10

    Re: couldn't do vs. couldn't have done

    The party is unlikely to be notorious for its madness the next day.

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