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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    Exclamation could have done

    Hi there,
    Are these sentences correct?

    1) You could have helped the man today.
    2) You could have helped the man now.


    What is the difference between these sentences:

    1) You could have helped the man.
    2) You could help the man.

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    #2

    Re: could have done

    In the first group, sentence 1 is fine. Sentence 2 doesn't work because the verb is in the past tense, which conflicts with the adverb now.

    In the second group, sentence 1 is in the past tense. It follows something like Why did you walk away yesterday? Sentence 2 is in the present conditional tense. It could follow something like If only you had a couple of dollars to spare!
    I am not a teacher.

  2. Piscean's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: could have done

    I don't agree that English has a 'present condition tense'. I'd say that 'you could help' is a modal form.

    I would not say that 'you could have helped' is past tense. I'd call it a modal perfect form.

  3. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: could have done

    The modal perfect refers to the past.
    I am not a teacher.

  4. Piscean's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: could have done

    Yes, Matthew, but it is not a past tense.

  5. Piscean's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: could have done

    A note for learners who may be confused.

    Many grammarians today consider that English verbs have only two tenses, the present (simple) and the past (simple).

    Some still consider the progressive/continuous and perfect forms as tenses, but most consider them to be aspects. It doesn't really matter to learners which word they use.

    Very few grammarians consider forms constructed with modals to be tenses or aspects. It is much more helpful for learners not to think of future or conditional tenses in English. We have ways of expressing the future and conditions, often, but not necessarily, using modals.

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    #7

    Re: could have done

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    The modal perfect refers to the past.
    I think that it is also worth mentioning that the past which the modal perfect refers to is relative to the time under consideration. In other words, it is similar in essence to looking back from a point in time. And the point in time may be in the future, present, or past:

    1) Our boss has decided to call a meeting next week. We might have finished the work by then.

    2) It's 7:30pm. He should have got there by now.


    3) I wasn't feeling well. I must have eaten something bad.



    Not a teacher.

  6. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: could have done

    The modal perfect refers to an earlier point in time.

    Any objection?
    I am not a teacher.

  7. Piscean's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: could have done

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    The modal perfect refers to an earlier point in time.
    ... than the time under consideration.

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