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    • Join Date: Feb 2008
    • Posts: 8
    #1

    Can see or See?

    Hello.

    I'm confusing with the use of the verb See in the Present Simple and in the Past Simple with the verb Can or without it.

    For example:

    - You see the house - You can see the house.
    - You saw the house - You could see the house.
    - I couldn't see it anywhere - I didn't see it anywhere.

    Could you help me please? What is the difference?

    Thanks.


    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 1,571
    #2

    Re: Can see or See?

    I'd say this is quite a philosophical question. 'Can' indicates possibility here. However, possibility merges with the realization of the action, that's why it's difficult to draw the borderline between: I saw a girl through the window. and I could see a girl through the window.

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    • Join Date: Mar 2008
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    #3

    Re: Can see or See?

    Quote Originally Posted by jesusengland View Post
    Hello.

    I'm confusing with the use of the verb See in the Present Simple and in the Past Simple with the verb Can or without it.

    For example:

    - You see the house - You can see the house.
    - You saw the house - You could see the house.
    - I couldn't see it anywhere - I didn't see it anywhere.

    Could you help me please? What is the difference?

    Thanks.
    You can see the house when you look out of the window.
    Standing on top of the ladder, you could see the house, which was surrounded by many trees.

    I couldn't see the cat anywhere. I thought it was hiding under the sofa, but even there I couldn't find it.

    Did you see him coming yesterday? - No, I didn't see him.

    As Clark has already pointet out, 'can/could' indicates a possibility as well as an ability in some cases.

  2. #4

    Re: Can see or See?

    in past sentences use could and in present and future use can.

    "I can see the house now."
    "I could see the house yesterday"
    "I think I can see the house tomorrow too"

    I hope I cleared your doubt. always use the bare infinitive form with all modern auxiliary verbs (can could might must may will should shall etc)


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,059
    #5

    Re: Can see or See?

    Quote Originally Posted by vjlenin View Post
    in past sentences use could and in present and future use can.

    This isn't exactly true, Vjlenin. It leads ESLs to the incorrect assumption that 'could' is the past tense of 'can'. It isn't. In modern English modal verbs are tenseless. They carry modal meaning into sentences but they don't mark tense.

    "I can see the house now."
    "I could see the house yesterday"

    You can't have seen the house yesterday. It was torn down a few months ago.

    "I think I can see the house tomorrow too".

    "I think I could see the house tomorrow too"
    The two example sentences show that modals can be used in all situations, past, present and future.
    Last edited by riverkid; 20-May-2008 at 06:29.


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,059
    #6

    Re: Can see or See?

    Quote Originally Posted by jesusengland View Post
    Hello.

    I'm [confusing] confused with the use of the verb See in the Present Simple and in the Past Simple with the verb Can or without it.
    #$


    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 1,571
    #7

    Re: Can see or See?

    The doctor couldn't see the patient yesterday. (1)

    The doctor can't/couldn't have seen the patient yesterday. (2)

    The doctor could be more polite. (3)


    (1) - 'couldn't' + simple infinitive. Indicative Mood. Reference to the past. Meaning - possibility (impossibility). The doctor couldn't see the patient because he was busy.

    (2) - can/couldn't + perfect infinitive. Indicates priority. Meaning - supposition with a high degree of certainty. I'm almost sure that the doctor didn't see the patient because he was busy.

    (3) could + simple infinitive. Reference to the present. Meaning - unreality (hypothetical situation). Reproach. Subjunctive Mood.

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