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    #1

    Could/could have

    Hey,

    Im struggling with the two sentences to be completed. Will you help?

    #1 We did our best to catch the train, we couldn't run/couldnīt have run any faster.

    #2 We waited for nearly an hour, we couldn't wait/couldnīt have waited any longer.

    Which of the given are correct? Can I use both in the context? How do they differ in meaning?

    Thanks for your commitment

    Waawe

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    #2

    Re: Could/could have

    In the first, either can be used. In the second, I would be more likely to use the first as there is not a sequence of events- waiting and the ability to wait are basically the same.

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    #3

    Re: Could/could have

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    In the first, either can be used. In the second, I would be more likely to use the first as there is not a sequence of events- waiting and the ability to wait are basically the same.
    Thanks loads for such a brisk answer.

    You say, in the first, either can be used. Do you suggest there isnt any difference in meaning whether we use either of them?

    Thanks for clarification.

    Regards, Waawe

  1. banderas's Avatar
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    #4

    Smile Re: Could/could have

    Quote Originally Posted by Waawe View Post
    Hey,

    Im struggling with the two sentences to be completed. Will you help?

    #1 We did our best to catch the train, we couldn't run/couldnīt have run any faster.



    #2 We waited for nearly an hour, we couldn't wait/couldnīt have waited any longer.

    Which of the given are correct? Can I use both in the context? How do they differ in meaning?

    Thanks for your commitment

    Waawe
    Tricky...Compare:
    I am so tired. I could sleep for a week. (present)
    I was so tired. I could have slept for a week. (past)
    But mostly, we use "could have done" for things which were possible but did not happen.
    We did our best to catch the train, we couldn't run any faster.
    We did not try (we did not even bother) to catch the train, we couldn't have run fast enough (not any faster as you did not run, in fact, you did not try to run at all.)

  2. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Could/could have

    Quote Originally Posted by banderas View Post
    Tricky...Compare:
    I am so tired. I could sleep for a week. (present)
    I was so tired. I could have slept for a week. (past)
    But mostly, we use "could have done" for things which were possible but did not happen.
    We did our best to catch the train, we couldn't run any faster.
    We did not try (we did not even bother) to catch the train, we couldn't have run fast enough (not any faster as you did not run, in fact, you did not try to run at all.)
    Hi Banderas,
    I don't agree about (we did not even bother), to me it says that we tried, but we couldn't run fast enough (to catch the train).

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    #6

    Re: Could/could have

    Things are getting a bit more complex.

    A hundred people, a hundred opinions?

    Can we come back to the original examples? Which way should they be then? Which is the most likely? Can you deliver more examples for my poor, dull head?

    Ta, W


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
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    #7

    Re: Could/could have

    Originally Posted by banderas
    Tricky...Compare:
    I am so tired. I could sleep for a week. (present)
    I was so tired. I could have slept for a week. (past)
    But mostly, we use "could have done" for things which were possible but did not happen.
    We did our best to catch the train, we couldn't run any faster.

    as compared to

    We did not try (we did not even bother) to catch the train, we couldn't have run fast enough (not any faster as you did not run, in fact, you did not try to run at all.)

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    Hi Banderas,
    I don't agree about (we did not even bother), to me it says that we tried, but we couldn't run fast enough (to catch the train).
    This is tricky stuff, really tricky stuff. I think, I say I think that you have misread what Banderas wrote, Bhaisahab. He said, "we couldn't have run fast enough".

    To me that says,

    Realizing that we couldn't have run fast enough, we didn't even try to catch the train.

    But then again, you may well be seeing a context that I'm not and if you are please describe it. This needs as much help as can be garnered.
    Last edited by riverkid; 04-Jun-2008 at 19:47.


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    #8

    Re: Could/could have

    Quote Originally Posted by Waawe View Post
    Hey,

    I'm struggling with the two sentences to be completed. Will you help?

    #1 We did our best to catch the train, we couldn't run/couldnīt have run any faster.

    #2 We waited for nearly an hour, we couldn't wait/couldnīt have waited any longer.

    Which of the given are correct? Can I use both in the context? How do they differ in meaning?

    Thanks for your commitment

    Waawe
    Quote Originally Posted by Waawe View Post
    Things are getting a bit more complex.

    A hundred people, a hundred opinions?

    Can we come back to the original examples? Which way should they be then? Which is the most likely? Can you deliver more examples for my poor, dull head?

    Ta, W
    They can be either way, Waawe. As to why and whether there is any difference in nuance, that is what is causing the "perplexment".

    I started a posting and then held off on it because this raised so many intriguing modal related issues that I thought better of posting until I had given it much more thought. Much much more thought.

  3. angel_catcher75's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2008
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    #9

    Re: Could/could have

    simply "could" is used to imply past ability for example " i was so tired but i could catch the bus" means that i was able to do it
    "could have" is used to imply past possibility while "couldn't have" implies past imposibilty


    • Join Date: Apr 2008
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    #10

    Re: Could/could have

    We couldn't run any faster. vs. We couldn't have run any faster.

    Here the Indicative Mood is opposed to the Subjunctive Mood.
    Indicative - presents the action as real.
    Subjunctive - presents the action as hypothetical

    'couldn't (run)' - past Indicative, meaning ability.
    'couldn't (have run)' - past Subjunctive, meaning a hypothetical action.

    'We couldn't run any faster' = We were unable to run any faster.
    'We couldn't have run any faster' can be interpreted as an unreal consequence from an unreal condition/concession. 'We couldn't have run any faster even if had wanted to (had tried to).'

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