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  1. Key Member
    Student or Learner
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • China

    • Join Date: Oct 2007
    • Posts: 1,618

    why not 'can't' but 'couldn't'?

    I read this question somewhere before and have been puzzled about the original answer of 'couldn't':

    ---Have some more cake.
    ---Oh, I couldn't/ can't. Thank you.

    I thought both answers are all right and I'm more likely to say 'I can't'.
    Do both 'couldn't' and 'can't' sound all right in the reply? Could you explain why?
    I was hoping a native English teacher could give me the answer. Thank you very much in advance.

    Thank you.

  2. oregeezer's Avatar
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • Thailand

    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 347

    Re: why not 'can't' but 'couldn't'?

    Either is okay.
    'couldn't' is usually taken to mean "I should not. It will make me fat!"
    'can't' is more like "I am too full."


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