[General] What the different between can't and couldn't?

Status
Not open for further replies.
H

Hanaka

Guest
Hello teachers,
I wonder what the differences of these sentences: 'I can't live without it', and 'I couldn't live without it'? When should I use can't or couldn't?
I'll be very thankful for your answer or explaination. Thank you very much.
Best regards,
Hanaka
 

BobK

Harmless drudge
Staff member
Joined
Jul 29, 2006
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
They can be similar in meaning, but the 'can't' version refers to a real situation; for example, your laptop has been being repaired for the three weeks, and you 'can't live without it'. The 'couldn't' version refers to a hypothetical situation: 'My Blackberry has all my friends' phone numbers, my 'todo' list, my email archive, photographs... - I don't know what I'd do if I lost it. I couldn't live without it.'

Of course, 'couldn't' could also (as there, without the negative prefix ;-)) be used to refer to a past instance of inability, as in: 'However hard I tried, I couldn't undo the knot.' But I don't think your question was about that sort of 'couldn't'.

b
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top