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    #1

    cannot / could not

    He said that I'm a karate expert. I said that I cannot / could not be called one.

    Which word should I use? I think 'cannot' is the right word because the fact remains that I consider myself to be not a karate expert.

    Many thanks.

  1. #2

    Re: cannot / could not

    Quote Originally Posted by Tan Elaine View Post
    He said that I'm a karate expert. I said that I cannot / could not be called one.

    Which word should I use? I think 'cannot' is the right word because the fact remains that I consider myself to be not a karate expert.

    Many thanks.
    I believe, if you are into karate now, your answer is "I cannot". If you used to do karate a while ago, you use "I could not". So, it's just a reference to the time.
    But I think I have my own question regarding to the usage of "could". Can we use it to mean uncertainty? Say, I am not sure if I am doing well or poorly. Can I say then "I could not be called a karate expert?"

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    #3

    Re: cannot / could not

    Could a teacher or moderator respond to my quesion since NanetteDee
    himself has a problem?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: cannot / could not

    Quote Originally Posted by NanetteDee View Post
    I believe, if you are into karate now, your answer is "I cannot". If you used to do karate a while ago, you use "I could not". So, it's just a reference to the time.
    But I think I have my own question regarding to the usage of "could". Can we use it to mean uncertainty? Say, I am not sure if I am doing well or poorly. Can I say then "I could not be called a karate expert?"
    No, you can't use "could" that way. What I think you mean is:
    "It could be that I could/can be called a karate expert". But that's awkward.
    A normal way of saying this is: "Well, I'm not sure I could be called an expert". (Yes, you'd use "could" rather than "can" because it's more conditional).

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: cannot / could not

    Quote Originally Posted by Tan Elaine View Post
    He said that I'm a karate expert. I said that I cannot / could not be called one.

    Which word should I use? I think 'cannot' is the right word because the fact remains that I consider myself to be not a karate expert.

    Many thanks.
    "Can't" is probably better because he has already called you an expert.
    "You can't say that!" is better than "You couldn't say that!" because he already has said it.

  4. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: cannot / could not

    I totally agree -- but do you think that people are so conditioned to use "could" as a more polite form of "can" that they say things that are not grammatical in a particular cirumstance just to use the more polite form?

  5. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: cannot / could not

    He said that I'm a karate expert. I said that I cannot / could not be called one.

    As this is indirect speech I think that could not is the best option.

  6. Raymott's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: cannot / could not

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    He said that I'm a karate expert. I said that I cannot / could not be called one.

    As this is indirect speech I think that could not is the best option.
    Good point! Sometimes it's appropriate to answer the question asked.

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