‘Can’ and ‘could’ are modal verbs that can be used in a few different ways. Read the post to learn the right way of using modal verb forms “can” and “could”.
Use “can” to talk about:
- I can swim well.
- Although they have horses, they can’t ride them.
- When mum gets back from shopping we can go out.
- It can be difficult to drive on the left side of the road if you’re not used to it.
- I am not working today so we can go to the beach.
- If the bus arrives in five minutes, we can be on time for the meeting.
- You can park here.
- You can’t smoke here. It is not allowed.
Use “could” to talk about:
Possibility in the past:
- Last year, we could go on holiday wherever we wanted.
- I could swim when I was five.
Uncertain possibility in the future:
- She could fail her exam unless she studies more.
- They could get a better job if they were more fluent in English.
Use either “can” or “could” to ASK permission. “Could” is more polite and formal:
- Can I have another cup of coffee?
- Could I borrow your car?
However, to GIVE permission, use “can” or “cannot”.
- It stopped raining, you can go out now.
- You can’t borrow my car, I need it.
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