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  1. sara88's Avatar

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    #1

    Could vs can

    Hello everyone
    "I could see that the penalties would help to discourage the behaviours they targeted".
    In this statement, why don't we use can instead of could?
    What do we mean by the use of could; past event?!! If yes, does this mean that I may not believe in that statement anymore?!
    Thanks a lot in advance.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Could vs can

    Quote Originally Posted by sara88 View Post
    Hello everyone
    "I could see that the penalties would help to discourage the behaviours they targeted".
    In this statement, why don't we use can instead of could?
    What do we mean by the use of could; past event?!! If yes, does this mean that I may not believe in that statement anymore?!
    Thanks a lot in advance.
    Yes, it's the past tense of can ... will (or would) ...
    No, it doesn't mean you no longer believe it. It could mean that you are explaining why you voted for the penalties at that time, for example.


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    #3

    Re: Could vs can

    "I can see that the penalties will help to discourage the behaviours they are targeting/have targeted".

    "I could see that the penalties would help to discourage the behaviours they are targeting/have targeted, but I think we can only really solve such problems for good if we give them a taste of gaol instead."

    (the views expressed in examples are not necessarily those of the writer.)

  3. Soup's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Could vs can

    Quote Originally Posted by sara88 View Post
    What do we mean by the use of could; past event?
    Type 2 conditional (hypothetical but possible) could work, with a bit of modification though ([...]),
    If we gave them a taste of gaol/jail, then I could see [how] the penalties would help to discourage the behaviours they targeted.

    I could see [how] the penalties would help to discourage the behaviours they targeted if we gave them a taste of gaol/jail.


    • Join Date: Jun 2008
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    #5

    Re: Could vs can

    Hi Everyone,

    It might not be such a good idea to refer to “could” as the past tense of “can”. Actually neither “can”, “could”, “will”, “would” or any other modal auxiliary expresses tense in English and it’s probably more helpful for new learners of English not to be burdened with false information. If we do think of “could” as the past tense of “can”, then suddenly many common uses of these two words become very difficult to understand. For example:

    Frank can help you tomorrow/Frank could help you tomorrow (happening in the future)
    Can you please be quiet?/Could you please be quite? (happening now)

    Good luck.

    I hope that’s helpful.

    Matthew Balson
    Competence home

  4. Senior Member
    Interested in Language
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    #6

    Re: Could vs can

    Quote Originally Posted by competence View Post
    Hi Everyone,

    It might not be such a good idea to refer to “could” as the past tense of “can”. Actually neither “can”, “could”, “will”, “would” or any other modal auxiliary expresses tense in English and it’s probably more helpful for new learners of English not to be burdened with false information. If we do think of “could” as the past tense of “can”, then suddenly many common uses of these two words become very difficult to understand. For example:

    Frank can help you tomorrow/Frank could help you tomorrow (happening in the future)
    Can you please be quiet?/Could you please be quite? (happening now)

    Good luck.

    I hope that’s helpful.

    Matthew Balson
    Competence home

    I agree.

    https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/a...-new-post.html

  5. RonBee's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Could vs can

    Could sometimes is the past tense of can. It depends.


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    #8

    Re: Could vs can

    competenceRe: Could vs can

    Frank can help you tomorrow/Frank could help you tomorrow (happening in the future)
    Can you please be quiet?/Could you please be quite? (happening now)

    Good luck.

    I hope that’s helpful.

    Matthew Balson
    Competence home

    I always know I can/could trust you.

    Both "can" and "could" work in this case, right?


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    #9

    Re: Could vs can

    I always know I can/could trust you.

    Both "can" and "could" work in this case, right?


    NO, Puzzle, NO

    ((Just when you think something is sorted, someone comes along with the dirty laundry re 'tenses or no' and confuses the whole damn issue again for learners.))

    Competence:
    I object to a show of erudition (presumably an example of the expertise available at the site you are pushing) that, if given a little forethought, might have been predicted to be more self-serving than of any clarification.

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    #10

    Re: Could vs can

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    Could sometimes is the past tense of can. It depends.

    yes, for example....

    Only men could vote in those days.
    He could run a lot faster two years ago.
    I could have helped you.




    In the following sentences referring to the past only "could" can be used. (not "can")

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