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      • Native Language:
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    #1

    Question could be, was and could have been

    As the administration was improved and particularly as the railway network was developed to connect the different parts of country,
    large-scale loss of life could be prevented.


    Does this sentence mean 'large-scale loss of life was prevented' or
    'large-scale loss of life could have been prevented'?

    Thanks for help.

  1. probus's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: could be, was and could have been

    Neither.

    "could be" = "it now became possible that"
    "was" = "the prevention actually occurred"
    "could have been" = "might have been prevented, provided some other conditions were satisfied".

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: could be, was and could have been

    The way I read it, it probably means 'was'. If you changed both the 'as' to 'if', you'd need "could have been".
    It seems to mean that the administration was improved and the railway network was developed and therefore large-scale loss of life was prevented. Or perhaps these things have been improved, but no possible life-losing events have occurred yet, so it's only possible to say that they could be prevented if they threatened to occur.

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