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    #1

    I "could" eat something

    Hello, teachers.
    I have a question about the following dialog.

    Wife. Have you had your dinner, Robert?
    Husband. No; I was so anxious to get home that I didn't stop.
    Wife. You poor boy, you must be famished.
    Husband. I could eat something.
    Wife. I'll have Bertha get it ready for you. It won't take long.

    Why does the husband say that he "could" eat something? What is the difference between this and a simple "I want to eat something"? I appreciate your help very much.

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: I "could" eat something

    Quote Originally Posted by imchongjun View Post
    Hello, teachers.
    I have a question about the following dialog.

    Wife. Have you had your dinner, Robert?
    Husband. No; I was so anxious to get home that I didn't stop.
    Wife. You poor boy, you must be famished.
    Husband. I could eat something.
    Wife. I'll have Bertha get it ready for you. It won't take long.

    Why does the husband say that he "could" eat something? What is the difference between this and a simple "I want to eat something"? I appreciate your help very much.
    In this context the difference is slight but significant (and probably annoying for many women). The man means 'I could eat something, and would if someone prepared it for me, but I'm not hungry enough to do anything about it for myself.' If he was "famished" he would.

    Strangely, there is an idiom in which 'could eat' = very hungry: 'I could eat a horse'.

    b

    • Member Info
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    #3

    Re: I "could" eat something

    Thank you for your very nice explanation!!

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