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    #1

    could have and should have

    Dear teachers,

    Please read the following sentence:

    You _______ have signed the contract without reading it carefully.
    a. couldn't b. shouldn't

    The key is 'b'. No problem. But I think 'a' also makes sense. 'b' suggests the person didn't read the contract before he signed it. 'a' suggests the person read the contract carefully before he signed the contract. Is that right?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang

  1. RonBee's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: could have and should have

    Quote Originally Posted by jiang View Post
    Dear teachers,

    Please read the following sentence:

    You _______ have signed the contract without reading it carefully.
    a. couldn't b. shouldn't

    The key is 'b'. No problem. But I think 'a' also makes sense. 'b' suggests the person didn't read the contract before he signed it. 'a' suggests the person read the contract carefully before he signed the contract. Is that right?
    No, it's not right. "You couldn't have signed the contract without reading it carefully" says that it would not have been possible for the person to have read the contract without signing it. That is clearly wrong. Only b is possible.

    ~R

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    #3

    Re: could have and should have


    Dear RonBee,
    Glad to see you come back for I haven't heard from you for a long time. I hope everything is going on well.
    Thank you very much for your explanation. But the explanation is difficult to undertand. Does "You couldn't have signed the contract without reading it carefully" actually mean ' the person read the contract but didn't sign it'?


    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    No, it's not right. "You couldn't have signed the contract without reading it carefully" says that it would not have been possible for the person to have read the contract without signing it. That is clearly wrong. Only b is possible.

    ~R

  2. RonBee's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: could have and should have

    Quote Originally Posted by jiang View Post

    Dear RonBee,
    Glad to see you come back for I haven't heard from you for a long time. I hope everything is going on well.
    Everything is fine, but I don't have much time to post these days.

    Quote Originally Posted by jiang View Post
    Thank you very much for your explanation. But the explanation is difficult to undertand. Does "You couldn't have signed the contract without reading it carefully" actually mean ' the person read the contract but didn't sign it'?
    No, it means it wouldn't have been possible to have signed the contract without reading it. However, that is clearly wrong, since it is quite possible to sign a contract without reading it first.

    Does that help?

    ~R

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    #5

    Re: could have and should have


    Oh, it should mean 'He signed the contract but he didn't read the contract'. That's impossible. Is that right?

    Jiang

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    Everything is fine, but I don't have much time to post these days.



    No, it means it wouldn't have been possible to have signed the contract without reading it. However, that is clearly wrong, since it is quite possible to sign a contract without reading it first.

    Does that help?

    ~R

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    #6

    Re: could have and should have

    Quote Originally Posted by jiang View Post

    Oh, it should mean 'He signed the contract but he didn't read the contract'. That's impossible. Is that right?

    Jiang
    It is possible to sign a contract without reading it first, but it is not a good idea.

    To say that some couldn't have signed a contract without reading it is clearly wong, since it is quite possible to sign a contract without reading it first. To say that a person shouldn't have signed a contract without reading it is to say that he did do so but it was a bad idea.

    ~R

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    #7

    Re: could have and should have


    Dear RonBee,
    Thank you very much for your explanation. Now I see.

    Jiang
    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    It is possible to sign a contract without reading it first, but it is not a good idea.

    To say that some couldn't have signed a contract without reading it is clearly wong, since it is quite possible to sign a contract without reading it first. To say that a person shouldn't have signed a contract without reading it is to say that he did do so but it was a bad idea.

    ~R


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    #8

    Re: could have and should have

    Couldn't it be used in a sense of disbelief???

    Eg: Tom : Hey, I did something stupid today. I signed a contract without reading it and later I realized that I had made a mistake!
    Harry: Oh no! You couldn't have done such a thing!!!! How many times have I told you to read through documents carefully before signing them????

    ( So, there it means that it is not possible and it is unbelievable that he had done such a thing.)

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    #9

    Re: could have and should have

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    No, it's not right. "You couldn't have signed the contract without reading it carefully" says that it would not have been possible for the person to have read the contract without signing it. That is clearly wrong. Only b is possible.

    ~R
    Actually I see it the other way round. "You couldn't have signed the contract without reading it carefully" says it would not have been possible for the person to sign the contract without reading it.-in the sense that no-one could be so stupid.

    I guess it's what girija is saying.

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