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    #1

    When should I use "can" and when should I use "could"?

    Sometimes I meet sentences where i can use both but in an exam I have to choose one, so which is used when?

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    #2

    Re: When should I use "can" and when should I use "could"?

    Could you give us a few of the sentences that you find difficult?

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    #3

    Re: When should I use "can" and when should I use "could"?

    Sometimes I meet sentences where i can use both but in an exam I have to choose one, so which is used when?

    Can:To express ability or inability.

    Can you solve this problem?

    Yes.I Can.No I can't.

    Could is used in polite questions.

    Could you solve the problem for me?

    Could is the past form of can.

    He said,"Can you do it?

    He said if he could do it.

    Regards,
    rj1948.

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    #4

    Re: When should I use "can" and when should I use "could"?

    I am just a student.
    I usually use ''could'' when I want to sound more polite.


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    #5

    Re: When should I use "can" and when should I use "could"?

    Quote Originally Posted by rj1948 View Post
    Sometimes I meet sentences where i can use both but in an exam I have to choose one, so which is used when?

    Could is the past form of can.

    He said,"Can you do it?

    XHe said if he could do it. X

    He asked if he/you could do it.

    Regards,
    rj1948.
    'could' is not the past form of 'can', RJ. The backshifting that occurs in examples of indirect reported is only functioning to mark that it is indirect reported speech. It isn't a reflection of any past event or of past time/tense.

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    #6

    Exclamation Re: When should I use "can" and when should I use "could"?

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    'could' is not the past form of 'can', RJ. The backshifting that occurs in examples of indirect reported is only functioning to mark that it is indirect reported speech. It isn't a reflection of any past event or of past time/tense.
    I have collected the following extract from a Website on the interpretation and use of 'could'. Your further comments on the explanation will be appreciated.

    Some schools of thought considercouldto represent the past tense ofcan. However, this is
    not always true. "Could I get you something?" clearly is not expressing past time. Lewis
    instead suggests thatcould is a remote form ofcan. It is evident after re-examining the usage
    of could in this light that remoteness does describe the general meaning, e.g.
    I couldn't do it. (remoteness of time)
    It could happen. (remoteness of possibility)
    Could you do me a favor? (remoteness of relationship)



    Thank you in advance
    Regards
    Manas

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    #7

    Re: When should I use "can" and when should I use "could"?

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    'could' is not the past form of 'can', RJ. The backshifting that occurs in examples of indirect reported is only functioning to mark that it is indirect reported speech. It isn't a reflection of any past event or of past time/tense.
    You are right,riverkid.Lapse of cocentration.It was 2.30 in the morning.

    Thanks for your correction.
    Regards,
    rj1948.

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    #8

    Re: When should I use "can" and when should I use "could"?

    Try both of these links,

    Azar Grammar Exchange

    Azar Grammar Exchange

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    #9

    Re: When should I use "can" and when should I use "could"?

    doesn't ''could'' suggest a hypothetical situation?
    isn't ''could'' the ''would'' of ''can''?
    just a student.
    thanks.


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    #10

    Re: When should I use "can" and when should I use "could"?

    Quote Originally Posted by jctgf View Post
    doesn't ''could'' suggest a hypothetical situation?
    isn't ''could'' the ''would'' of ''can''?
    just a student.
    thanks.
    Remember the scale, JC.

    <------------------------Greater reality / Greater non-reality -------------------------->
    When S +verb--------------If S + present tense form verb -----------If S +past tense form


    "If I go to London, I can see Big Ben.", also shows a hypothetical but it's just closer to the 'left' side.

    "If I went to London, I could see Big Ben". , simply reflects that the speaker has moved some distance to the 'right'. The difference between the two can/could be large or hardly any difference at all, depending on semantic/contextual considerations.
    Last edited by riverkid; 12-Jun-2008 at 00:15.

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