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    #1

    Could everybody park here?

    Hello,

    *self-made*

    - Could everybody park here?

    Is it OK to use 'could' when we talk about things which are (or are not) allowed by rules, laws?

    Thank you!

  1. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Could everybody park here?

    http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/could
    If definition#1 above is correct, 'could' should refer to the past in your question.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #3

    Re: Could everybody park here?

    https://learnenglish.britishcouncil....sts-and-advice

    Permission: could is more formal and polite than can:

    - Could I ask a question please?
    - Could we go home now?

    I cannot understand, although 'could we go now?' refers to the present, why my sentence refers to the past only?

  2. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Could everybody park here?

    I don't think the speaker of your sentence is asking permission.
    I am not a teacher.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Could everybody park here?

    If you're asking whether something is or isn't allowed by law, I suggest "Are people allowed to park here?" or "Is parking allowed here?"
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  4. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Could everybody park here?

    Quote Originally Posted by ademoglu View Post
    why my sentence refers to the past only?
    Your sentence would refer to the present if 'everybody' was replaced with 'I'.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #7

    Re: Could everybody park here?

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello, Ademoglu:

    After reading Matthew Wai's post #6, I now think (think!) that I understand your question in post #3.

    James: Why is this big piece of land empty?
    Mona: It used to be a big parking lot until last year. Now it is empty, for they are planning to build a big skyscraper here.
    James: Could everybody park here when it was a parking lot?
    Mona: No. There were only 500 parking spaces, but there were 1,000 employees at that time. So the other 500 were not able to park here.


    As you can see, "could" here is really referring to the past.


    *****

    As Mr. Wai reminded us, "Could I park here?" is referring to the present, for "could" is NOT referring to the past. For some reason, native speakers feel that the past form of modals is more courteous or softer:

    "Hey! Can I sit here?"

    "Excuse me. Could I sit here, please?"

  5. Eckaslike's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Could everybody park here?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    For some reason, native speakers feel that the past form of modals is more courteous or softer:

    "Hey! Can I sit here?"

    "Excuse me. Could I sit here, please?"
    TheParser, this is my understanding of another one of those rules we had drummed into us at school (BrE).

    My understanding is that in this context "Could I" is simply another present tense replacement for "May I".

    The logic for using "Could I" instead of "Can I", was always explained that "Can I sit here?" taken literally can mean, "Am I [physically] able to sit down?", to which the sarcastic response was sometimes made "I don't know can you?" [i.e. "Are you physically capable of sitting down?"].

    "Could I sit here, please?" is therefore seen as a more courteous present tense request for permission to sit down.

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    #9

    Re: Could everybody park here?

    My own view is that could and would are the distancing forms of can and will respectively.

    The distancing may be in:

    time -
    Luke can play the guitar.
    Luke could play the guitar when he was only five.

    reality -
    If I leave now, I can be there by six.
    If I left now, I could be there by six.


    Directness -

    Could you lend me 20, please?
    Can you lend me 20, please?

  7. Eckaslike's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: Could everybody park here?

    Yes I agree Piscean,

    I think we were taught what I wrote, from an early age as young children, probably to give us a simple reason to grasp as to why we shouldn't use "Can I?" in certain situations. That has probably stuck with me the longest as I haven't had a reason, until now, to explain or discuss it with anyone for around 40 years.

    Now that you have reminded me of the distancing rule I do remember it.

    But, even if I had remembered it, I doubt I could have expressed in with such clarity! Thank you.

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