MODAL VERBS —– “COULD”
“COULD” is one of the most used modal verbs in English. “COULD” is an auxiliary verb ( modal auxiliary verb ).
It can be used to express;
General Structure of “COULD” in a Sentence
POSITIVE FORM (+) : Subject + COULD + Verb ( first form of the verb )
NEGATIVE FORM (-) : Subject + COULD + NOT ( CAN’T ) + Verb ( first form of the verb )
QUESTION FORM (?) : COULD+ Subject + Verb ( first form of the verb )
- I could say something. ( positive form )
- I could not ( couldn’t ) say something. ( negative form )
- Could I say something? ( question form )
Contraction for ” COULD NOT “;
could not –> couldn’t Ex: I couldn’t speak to Mr. Big.
The negative form “couldn’t” is generally used in spoken English and “could not” is generally used in written English.
Using ” COULD “
“COULD and/or COULDN’T” is used as the past tense of “CAN and/or CAN’T“.
1. It is used to express that someone is able to do something in the past. ( Ability in the Past)
- I could speak four languages when I was younger.
- She could not ( couldn’t ) drive a car.
- He could play football well when he was a kid.
- We could not ( couldn’t ) get a job at those times.
2. It is used to express that something is possible in the past. ( Possibility in the Past )
- A lot of crime could be prevented.
- This new method could be an important step in success.
- I could call you anytime.
3. It is used in a question, which is not a real question, to ask somebody to do something in a polite way. “COULD” is used as a more formal and polite form of “CAN”. ( Polite Request )
- Could you lend me this book?
- Could you tell me where the post office is, please?
- Could you turn that music down a little, please?
- Could you please explain this to me one more time?
4. It is also used to ask or give permission for something. “COULD” is used as a more formal and polite form of “CAN”. ( Polite Permission )
- Could I take your book, please?
- Could I please use your computer?
- Excuse me, could I just ask you something?
- Could we go home now?
5. It is used for making a suggestion. ( Suggestion )
- If you want,we could go out for dinner after school?
- You could always call me every day of the week if it is necessary.
- You could go out for relax.
- I could help you with Spanish if you are interested.
For ” COULD ” AS A CONDITIONAL FORM OF “CAN”;
When we are talking about past time in conditionals, we use “could” instead of “can”.
- If you called me, I could find you some suggestion.
- I could visit many places if I had more money.
- Even if I had more time, I couldn’t study hard.
For ” COULD + HAVE + V3 “;
1. It is used to express a possiblity in the past.
- I can’t my key. Where could I have put it?
- They were lucky because they could have died but they didn’t.
- The computer is closed. The students could have turned it off.
- Where is Susan? I don’t know she could have fallen asleep.
2. It is used to express unrealised past ability. It means that someone has ability to do something but she/he didn’t try to do it. We can say that it is a form of critism.
- I could have bought a new house but I didn’t buy.
- You could have told us about this. Why didn’t you?
- We could have learned to play any musical enstruments last year.
- She could have spoken any languages she wanted.
For ” COULD NOT”;
It is used in negative saying ( when something is impossible to happen or untrue)
- He couldn’t have this house. He is poor.
- It couldn’t be my book. I wrote my name at the top of the first page.
- He couldn’t draw this picture. He is not good at drawing.
For Modal Verb – CAN, click here