Could / Can

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jack

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Apr 24, 2004
Are these correct? What do they mean?

1. I could take a shower right now.
2. I can take a shower right now.
3. I could have taken a shower right now.
 

Mister Micawber

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(1) and (2) suggest present possibility; (2) also suggests present permission granted; (3) suggests present impossibility.
 

Sathish Kumar

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Oct 12, 2004
Can and Could are 'model Auxiliary' verbs.
1. 'Could' in the first sentence suggests possibility that can still happen.
2. 'Can' in the second sentence suggests the ability.
3. 'Could Have Taken' suggests the possibility that could have happened, but not anymore.

Hope this is correct. Comment if any!!
 

jack

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Apr 24, 2004
What do these mean? I know one is past tense and the other one is present but what else does it mean?

1. Aren't you tired form being all you could be?
2. Aren't you tried from being all you can be?

What do these mean?
3. I could make a change myself.
4. I can make a change myself.
5. I could finish my tasks in time.
6. I can finish my tasks in time.
 

blacknomi

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1. Aren't you tired form being all you could be?
I am tired from being all I could be, I mean I would like to make efforts to do what I can do even if it's almost impossible.
As a teacher,
(1)I could be a mother at the same time who takes care of kids if I am teaching kids English.
(2)I could be a daughter when I teach a 60-year-old housewife.
(3)I could be a love consultant when I teach young adults who are dumped by their partners.
(4)I could be a idol when I have male students in my class.
(5)I could be a bonehead if it comes to any kewl techniques.

Notice, education is my pccupation so that I have to be a master of delivering knowledge that stores in my brain. Also I have to be responsible for class management, which can be frustrated once in a while. Okay, then, other roles that I could have to play such as a mother-could-be, daughter-could-be, love-consultant-could-be, idol-could-be and bonehead-could are not really my skills, but could be. :D


2. Aren't you tried from being all you can be?
The present auxiliary "can" is not that complicated than its past form "could." "Can" indicates the your capability of doing something, which means that you are able to do it. However, "could" could indicate the same thing just that it could be more imaginary like "I wish I could fly." Okay, back to your example senetence, "all I can be" sounds less imaginary than "all I could be" does.
As a teacher,
(1) I can be(yes, I am) a daughter in my family as well. ( But I'm not a love consultant though it could be.)
(2) I can be Patrick's romantic girlfriend as well.
(3) I can be a student when I am in a classroom Here


I can be someone else without making too many efforts.
I could be someone else with a little more imagination.



What do these mean?
3. I could make a change myself.
4. I can make a change myself.
As Mr. MM said, both indicate a possibility. Other than that, you would have to learn to feel the difference once in a while.
Could:
-might or might not.
-less subjective
-polite
-compromise
-indirect
-doubt

Can:
-be able to do something
-more subjective
-direct
-confident
-be sure of, definite
-promise, trustful


5. I could finish my tasks in time.
6. I can finish my tasks in time.
Can you tell me how do feel it? This is not an assigment of course. :lol: :lol:


Does that help, Jack? :hi:
 

jack

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Apr 24, 2004
Thanks. Let me spend some time to think about it and I'll ask you if I have any questions. :)
 

blacknomi

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You're welcome, Jack. Take your time.

I love your questions. :D
 

Steven D

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Member Type
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What do these mean? I know one is past tense and the other one is present but what else does it mean?

1. Aren't you tired form being all you could be? <<


A - Aren't you tired from being all you were able to be. (possiblity in the past - or - ability in the past)

B - Aren't you tired from being all you can possibly be. (present possibility)

It depends on the context whether sentence 1 means A or B.


could - past ability

could - possibility in the past

could - possibility in the present

Once again, more context is needed to know which meaning "could" has.


2. Aren't you tried from being all you can be? <<


Aren't you tired from being all you are able to be.

Aren't you tired from being all you are capable of being.

can - present ability

What do these mean?

3. I could make a change myself. <<

It's possible for me to make a change.

4. I can make a change myself. <<

I am able to make a change. I am capable of making a change. I have the ability to make a change.

5. I could finish my tasks in time. <<

I was able to finish my tasks on time.

It's possible right now for me to finish my tasks on time.


6. I can finish my tasks in time.<<<

I am able to finish my tasks on time. I am capable of finishing my tasks on time.
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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1. I could take a shower right now. (if I wanted to)
2. I can take a shower right now. (I have the opportunity)
3. I could have taken a shower right now. (I had the opportunity but didn't bother)
;-)
 

jack

Senior Member
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Apr 24, 2004
What do these mean?

1. I guess I can go to school next year.
2. I guess I could go to school next year.

3. I guessed I could go to school next year.
4. I guessed I can go to school next year.

5. I can tell when my truck is going to lose traction.
6. I could tell when my truck is going to lose traction.
 

blacknomi

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1 has more possibilities than 2.

3 could be better than 4 because the tense should be in concordance.

5, you are able to do somthing.
6, same as 5, with a tad of uncertainty of your capability of doing it.
 

blacknomi

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5. I can tell when my truck is going to lose traction.
6. I could tell when my truck is going to lose traction.


Both "can" and "could" refer to general ability.

I can tell when my truck is going to lose traction. (OK)
--> present can + future tense is going to
--> I am able to, I am pretty sure I can tell.

I could tell when my truck is going to lose traction. (OK)
--> past could + future tense is going to
--> I am able to, but I am not very sure I can tell.
 

blacknomi

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3. I guessed I could go to school next year.
4. I guessed I can go to school next year.


The past tense of "guessed" dominates the time frame of all sentence; the action of guess happend at a point in the past. So the axiliary in the second clause should be the past tense, "could."


4 is okay though just that the tenses are not balanced.
 

jack

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2004
Are these correct? What do these mean?

1. Could I burrow that from you? (Is this correct? 'Could' more polite right?)
2. Could I burrow that from you? (Or is this incorrect? Because it is a conditional statement? 'Could I burrow that from you if you don't need it?')
3. Can I burrow that from you?

Are these correct? What do these mean?
4. Could I burrow that from you if you don't need it? (Is this incorrect? Should it be 'past/past' ?)
5. Could I burrow that from you if you didn't need it? (Correct? Past/Past?)
 

Casiopea

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borrow, not burrow. ;-)

With requests, speakers tend to use 'can', but they should be using 'could'. The assumption is that 'can' is informal and 'could' is formal, but that's not true. 'can' means ability, whereas could means, possibility.

Pat: Could I borrow that from you, if you don't need it?
Sam: Sure.

Pat: Can I borrow that from you, if you don't need it?
Sam: Uhm, I don't know. Can you? Do you have the physical ability, the strength?:roll:
 

jack

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Apr 24, 2004
With requests, speakers tend to use 'can', but they should be using 'could'. The assumption is that 'can' is informal and 'could' is formal, but that's not true. 'can' means ability, whereas could means, possibility.

Pat: Could I borrow that from you, if you don't need it?
Sam: Sure.
So this is not incorrect right?
1. Could I borrow that from you? ('Could' is more polite than 'can' but is this a conditional question?)

Or should it be
2. Could I burrow that from you if you don't need it. (Does it have to be conditional?)
 
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