can could

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KLAUDE

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Feb 5, 2008
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hi, I wonder if you can help me with the following: CANyou cook sunday roast ,Ican't. Is that a speculation or deduction or is it a presnt ability or skill.?2 Amy could be cooking for me right now . is that a future possibility or a deduction or a present ability .3 could you help me please .is that a request or asking permition . cheers for helping me.klaude'
 

Johan[@CLT]

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hi, I wonder if you can help me with the following: CANyou cook sunday roast ,Ican't. Is that a speculation or deduction or is it a presnt ability or skill.?2 Amy could be cooking for me right now . is that a future possibility or a deduction or a present ability .3 could you help me please .is that a request or asking permition . cheers for helping me.klaude'

Can you cook Sunday roast, I can't: You ask the other person whether it is possible or not, regarding to time. Do you have the time or in general are you able to cook for me on Sunday.

Amy could be cooking for me right now : Here you say that it might be possible that she is cooking.

Could you help me please?: This is just a request of someone who would like to be helped. She doesn't ask for permission. It is important here to use Could because you ask someone to help you. Could is more polite than Can. The Could is softer than the "sharper" Can


regards


Johan
 

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#1 Can you cook Sunday roast. I can't It is saying do you have the cooking skill to cook a Sunday roast.

#2 Amy could be cooking for me right now. It could be that Amy might be cooking at this minute.

#3 Could you help me, please. It is a polite request.

 

riverkid

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Aug 17, 2006
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English Teacher
#1 Can you cook Sunday roast. I can't

It is saying do you have the cooking skill to cook a Sunday roast.


I believe that in this example, 'can' can/could says more than "do you have the ability/necessary skills?". IMHO, the ability meaning is less likely, especially given the speaker's "I can't". I think that the meaning suggested by Johan, ie.

"whether it is possible or not, regarding to time" probably is closer.

If the issue really were a question of ability it probably would be phrased differently.

Are you capable of cooking a roast for me ...? / Do you have the necessary skills/ability to cook a roast for me ...?


#2 Amy could be cooking for me right now. It could be that Amy might be cooking at this minute.

Let me suggest that 'could' isn't limited to 'might'. I think that this use of 'could' holds a potential meaning for might be ... / may be ... / probably is ... / almost certainly is ....

In speech, intonation would give us a clue as to how certain the speaker was, if, IF that is, the speaker thought there was a need to 'intone' could.




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